Royal Rumble season is upon us. It's a beautiful time of year for wrestling fans. Not only is the Rumble itself one of the more highly anticipated events on the wrestling calendar, but it also signals the arrival of the Road To WrestleMania. This is, of course, when a lot of exciting things take place on WWE programming.
It isn't all fun and games with the Rumble, though. If you've been following my work through the years, you would know that I have written about the “Curse Of The #14” during Rumble time on a few different occasions. If you're new to my work, or if you're just generally unaware of the curse, the story goes like this...
The people who enter the Royal Rumble in the #14 spot, more often than not, encounter a lot of negative things after the fact. Sometimes the curse strikes quickly, and other times, it takes years. It has brought legal issues, addiction problems, loss of employment, and even death. For the most part, you can look at this list as tongue-in-cheek, but there have been so many instances of things happening that you have to at least stop and wonder if a curse really might exist.
Let's not waste any more time and take a look at every single person to enter a Royal Rumble at #14, and then you can make your own decisions on things like curses.
1988 - “Outlaw” Ron Bass
Ron Bass was a successful guy in the days of territories, winning many titles in Florida, as well as in Mid-Atlantic and Gulf Coast Championship Wrestling, among other places. About a year after he had the #14 spot in the Rumble, he was gone from the WWF, where he would return to the territorial scene for the next two years or so until injuries forced him to retire. On one hand, you could say it was all downhill for him after the Rumble appearance. On the other hand, he was ready to turn 41 when he retired, so it's not like he was forced out of the business when he was in his 20's. This is one of the entries where there is no “wrong” answer on whether or not he felt the curse.
1989 – Marty Jannetty
A little less than two years after his appearance at #14, Jannetty was involved in a tag team match against enhancement talent. During the match, he would perform his Rocker Dropper finishing move on a man named Charles Austin. Miscommunication took place, leading to Austin tucking his head when he shouldn't have, causing his neck to be broken upon impact with the mat. Austin would go on to sue not only Jannetty, but Titan Sports as a whole, and would go on to win about $27 million in a settlement.
A year later, the infamous Barber Shop segment would take place, where The Rockers split up after Shawn Michaels sent Jannetty through a plate glass window. Many people thought that this would lead to Jannetty going on to become a singles star, but it never happened, and he had to sit back and watch as Michaels would go on to become one of the biggest names in the history of the business. The term “Marty Jannetty” would go on to describe the “weaker” member of a tag team, and that term will probably stick forever. Soon after the split, Jannetty would be arrested for attacking a police officer, and the WWF released him. He bounced back and forth between employment for the company, always returning but never doing much of anything, and was battling substance abuse issues the entire time. There is no doubt whatsoever that Jannetty was touched by this curse.
1990 – Haku
A month before the Rumble, Haku and Andre The Giant defeated Demolition to become the WWF Tag Team Champions. Two months after the Rumble, Haku and Andre would drop the belts back to Demolition. Within two years, Haku was gone from the company. While he did leave the company, he still had another decade left in his career, and would even make a surprise appearance in New Japan last year, wrestling two matches at the age of 56. It would be difficult to say that he was cursed, though. Besides, if you did, he'd probably find out and bite the tip of your nose clean off.
1991 – "The British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith
Curses have mysterious ways of hitting people sometimes. This is one of those times. When it started, there is nobody that could say Davey Boy was cursed. The year after entering the Rumble at #14, he main evented SummerSlam and won the Intercontinental Title from Bret Hart in an all-time classic in front of his fellow British countrymen. However, he was released by the WWF only a couple months later after he was caught receiving shipments of Human Growth Hormone.
He signed with WCW and was made to look like a big deal, heading straight for the main event scene. Then, after only a few months with the company, he got into an altercation with a man in a bar, and WCW released him.
A year after WCW released him, Davey would return to the WWF. He nearly won the 1995 Royal Rumble, then got involved in the WWF Title picture for a brief period. Things were going very well for him at the time. He was a member of the Hart Foundation stable that was feuding with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and setting the wrestling world on fire. He was making things happen both as a singles wrestler and in a tag team with Owen Hart. Then, the Montreal Screwjob took place, and once again, Davey Boy was no longer a member of the WWF roster. At least this time it was his own doing.
A return to WCW was next, but this run wasn't exactly newsworthy except for one thing... suffering a back injury during a match when he landed awkwardly on a trap door that had been set in the ring for an entrance for The Warrior. Bulldog would end up with a spinal infection that nearly left him paralyzed. During his six-month stay in the hospital, he was released from his contract by WCW.
His personal life was taking a hit during this time, as well. His brother-in-law, Owen Hart, would pass away in 1999. A few months later, Davey's wife filed for divorce, and he was sent to drug rehab for addictions to painkillers and morphine, caused by his back injury. Another uneventful run in the WWF came to an end shortly after his rehab stint. Two years later, he suffered a heart attack and passed away at the age of 39. Needless to say, this one has curse written all over it.
1992 – Hercules
Only a couple months after making his appearance at #14, Hercules was gone from the company. It didn't take him long to find work elsewhere, though, as he landed a job in WCW... which lasted all of three matches before he was no longer employed there, either. He found a small amount of success in Japan, teaming with Scott Norton to win the IWGP Tag Team Titles for New Japan, before he would return to America and finish out his career in obscurity. In 2004, he would pass away in his sleep, dying at the age of 47. His mainstream wrestling career was never the same after being in the 1992 Rumble, and becoming yet another early death statistic in pro wrestling just makes things worse. Give this one a slight nod in favor of being cursed.
1993 – The Berzerker
John Nord was someone that probably should have achieved more in the wrestling business than he did. He was 6'6” tall, weighed 300 pounds, and possessed a unique look that helped him stand out. He got a couple nice pushes in the WWF, feuding with The Undertaker for a while and having a gimmick where he loved to toss his opponents over the top rope and to the floor, which would make him a kayfabe favorite to win any Rumble he appeared in.
After being in the 1993 Rumble, he would only wrestle two more matches for the WWF before he was gone. A brief stint with All Japan Pro Wrestling followed, and then an even shorter stay with WCW, was the extent of the rest of his career. This is another one of those entries that will fall in the middle, where you can make an argument for either side of the cursed discussion. Simply for the fact that his Rumble spot was basically his pink slip, I'll give the slightest of nods to being cursed.
1994 – Doink The Clown
First things first, can we just say that there's no way the Doink character should have worked? He was a wrestling clown, for goodness sake. This gimmick came at a time when it seemed like everyone on the WWF roster had a second job. You had a clown, a race car driver, a plumber, a garbage man, a hockey player, and so on and so forth. It was Matt Osborne's dedication to the Doink gimmick that made it a success, both as a heel and as a face.
Unfortunately, Osborne was fired at the end of 1993 because of multiple issues with cocaine abuse. A wrestler named Ray Apollo would take over as the man portraying Doink, but the character's shelf life was limited without Osborne. Doink would be given a little person sidekick, Dink, and then given two more little people, Wink and Pink, as additional sidekicks to battle Jerry Lawler and HIS little people sidekicks (Sleazy, Queasy, and Cheesy) in one of the dumbest Survivor Series matches of all-time. Doink would then move down the card to jobber status before being gone from the company altogether.
Osborne's personal issues and battles with drug addiction would continue until 2013, when he died of an accidental overdose at the age of 55. This one is weird and layered. The Doink character lost pretty much all momentum it had in 1994, so that leans to being cursed. The man who made the character what it was could not escape his personal demons and would become another sad statistic for the detractors of the business to use. The whole thing is sad, really.
1995 – Jacob Blu
Ahh, the good old Royal Rumble debut. Fans all over the world expect those types of things now, with new wrestlers or call-ups from NXT making their debut in the match, but in 1995, we got the debut of Jacob Blu and his twin brother, Eli.
Oh, they were gone after a few months.
Oh, they returned a few months later as the Grimm Twins.
Oh, they were gone after a month.
Oh, they returned almost a year later as Skull and 8-Ball. It was their best and longest run with the company, but it still wasn't all that newsworthy outside of participating in the quasi-racist “Gang Wars” storyline with a black “gang” feuding with a Hispanic “gang” feuding with a white biker “gang”.
They did win the WCW Tag Team Titles on three occasions in the tail end of the company's history, but their reigns combined to see 38 days of holding the gold. These days, both Ron and Don Harris are more known for their Nazi sympathizing and a failed attempt to purchase TNA as a part of a production company called Aroluxe than anything else. If you want to consider it a notch in the “curse” side of things because the Harris boys were quickly gone from the company after a #14 entry by one of them, I won't fault you for it, but it could go either way.
1996 – Doug Gilbert
This is a weird one. A very weird one. The younger brother of wrestling legend “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert, Doug would be making his one and only WWF appearance in this Rumble match. His time in the ring lasted approximately three minutes. Nobody knew what to say or think. This was at a time when surprise entrants in the Rumble weren't happening all the time, and when they did happen, it was usually an international star such as Carlos Colon, Mil Mascaras, or Genichiro Tenryu, in an attempt to drum up some excitement for the event in other countries.
Prior to being in the Rumble, Gilbert had some minor success wrestling in the United States Wrestling Association and the Global Wrestling Federation, but his career defining moment took place during a promo.
In 1999, while working for Power Pro Wrestling, Gilbert was cutting a promo on Brian Christopher (aka Grandmaster Sexay of WWF fame), saying he was only in the business because his father is Jerry Lawler. He then veered way into left field by saying that company promoter Randy Hales couldn't cut his mic off at that moment because he was too busy smoking crack in the control room. Finally, he mentioned that Jerry Lawler “raped a 13-year-old girl”, which Lawler was legitimately facing charges for at the time until the girl recanted her story. He would be fired immediately, but again, it became his career's defining moment. Cursed? Sure seems like it.
1997 – Goldust
Time has gone back and forth with this one a bit. The year before this, Goldust won the Intercontinental Title twice, and seemed to have arrived on the scene as a potential major player on the WWF roster. After making this appearance in the Rumble, however, things began to go downhill, starting with being the last person that Brian Pillman feuded with before Pillman passed away.
1997 saw a change in his gimmick, as he went from being Goldust to being The Artist Formerly Known As Goldust, a bizarre (even more so than the original) character that was managed by Luna Vachon and would wear things like women's lingerie, diapers, and all kinds of weird accoutrement. Moving forward, he switched to being simply Dustin Runnels, and was kind of a Born Again Christian character before finally going back to being Goldust.
His career never reached the heights that it did pre-97 Rumble. He had a terrible run with WCW in 1999 as Seven, and then as Dustin Rhodes, all while nobody seemed to care. He went through what was, at one point, a very bitter divorce. He had an ugly battle with drug and alcohol addiction, which led to problems in his relationship with his daughter. His father passed away. He and his brother, Cody, have both been very open about their relationship being quite rocky on many occasions.
Just to be fair and balanced, he has definitely seen his personal life turn around in recent years. He has been clean and sober since 2008, allowing him to be in the best physical condition he's been in for a long time. That was the opened door for a rejuvenated run in WWE, where he teamed with Cody to win the Tag Team Titles on two occasions. It's been quite the roller coaster ride, but there's no denying that things went downhill, and quickly, after he entered the Rumble at #14.
1998 – Ken Shamrock
Whether you liked him or not, there are many people who feel that Shamrock is one of the better wrestlers from his era to never win the World Title. That is, of course, unless you count the NWA World Title, as he was NWA-TNA's first champion in 2002, but by that point, that title had all but become a joke in the industry.
Rewinding a bit, he didn't have the worst 1998. After being in the Rumble, he feuded with Rocky Maivia over the Intercontinental Title, failing in a couple attempts to win the gold, but then moved on to become the King Of The Ring that year. You know, back when that still meant something. His 1998 closed out with him finally winning the Intercontinental Title, followed by teaming with Big Bossman to win the Tag Team Titles as a member of The Corporation.
Alright, so his 1999 wasn't that great. He lost both of his titles, moved down the card, and lost on a more frequent basis before leaving the company to return to MMA before the end of the year. Then we got the aforementioned reign as NWA World Heavyweight Champion during his two-month stint with NWA-TNA. All in all, you can't say that he suffered a whole lot in his wrestling career after the Rumble spot.
Now, if you're going to look at his MMA career, that's a different story. When he left the sport to begin his pro wrestling journey, his record was 23-5-2. He was one of the biggest names in all of MMA, and had won titles in the UFC as well as Pancrase. After returning to MMA, he would have 17 more fights, losing 12 of them, had a post-fight drug test come back positive for steroids, and would pretty much destroy much of the credibility he had built up before he became a pro wrestler.
You tell me... did the curse strike him? His wrestling career actually saw a major boost after the Rumble, but his MMA career did not. It might not be the popular decision, but I'm going to say that the curse struck him, albeit in a different way than many of the others on this list.
1999 – Kurrgan
You remember Kurrgan, don't you? Big, bad dude. Started out in The Truth Commission, ended up being in The Oddities. He didn't really accomplish much while in the WWF, but that could be said about his time before the 1999 Rumble, as well. The one and only odd (no pun intended) thing about him getting the #14 spot is that he was gone from the company within a month of it happening. That happens to a lot of people on this list.
Outside of the ring, he has gone on to have a successful acting career, making appearances in movies such as 300, Hercules, Sherlock Holmes, Pacific Rim, and Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters, to go with television spots in shows like Once Upon A Time, Haven, and The Strain.
There isn't a whole lot to say here, but I think you can say that he avoided being hit by the curse. Good for him.
2000 – Bob Backlund
In his prime, Bob Backlund was one of the biggest babyfaces in all of wrestling. A generation of slightly younger fans know him for his return to the WWF in 1992, where he seemed to step out of a time machine, looking and wrestling almost exactly the same as he had two decades prior. It all built up to one of the most surprising title changes ever, when he won the WWF Championship at the 1994 Survivor Series at the age of 45. Perhaps even more amazing than him winning the title in the first place was the fact that he lost it three days later... at a house show... in an eight-second squash against Diesel.
After returning to the company here for the 2000 Rumble, Backlund would go on to have a managerial role before leaving the company yet again. He has gone on to make numerous appearances on WWE programming in the last 17 years, mostly on anniversary shows and themed “Old School” nights, but is now managing Darren Young, even though they aren't exactly on television every week.
Later in 2000, Backlund unsuccessfully ran for Congress in Connecticut. Seriously. Between that and Linda McMahon's two failed bids for a Senate seat there, it's pretty clear that Connecticut doesn't want anyone from the world of wrestling involved in their political picture. Either way, not enough happened to warrant saying Backlund was cursed, so we're at two in a row without any issues. Hooray!
2001 – The Goodfather
Think back to the Attitude Era, and to all of the colorful gimmicks and characters we got to see on a weekly basis. There's only a small handful of people who can say that they were more over at the time than The Godfather. He wasn't giving you five-star classics, but the people loved him, and perhaps more specifically, the particular “train” that was always with him.
Charles Wright had wrestled as Sir Charles, Papa Shango, and Kama (both in “Supreme Fighting Machine” and “Mustafa” forms) for the WWF, going back to 1991, but it was The Godfather that brought him his biggest success.
None of that matters here, because he wasn't The Godfather for this Rumble. No, he was a part of the short-lived Right To Censor group, and was going by The Goodfather, renouncing his ways of the past. Fans hated it. He probably hated it, considering the fact that he wasn't portraying the character as The Godfather... that's really who he is.
He was on the losing end of almost every match he participated in after being in the 2001 Rumble. Five months later, RTC disbanded, and that was the last we saw of The Goodfather. Wright would be gone for seven months before returning at the 2002 Rumble... as The Godfather once again.
His biggest in-ring success took place before the 2001 Rumble. He basically became a jobber that nobody liked after the 2001 Rumble. He would retire from the business within a year or so after the 2001 Rumble. Even though it didn't deliver anything too serious, it's still safe to say that this one should count as a curse, as well.
2002 – Diamond Dallas Page
When you think of Diamond Dallas Page, you think of one of the most positive men that the business has ever seen. Someone who, against all odds, became a huge star in a time and era where someone like him was needed. He was a legend in WCW, but his WWF career didn't exactly get off to the best of starts. He was immediately placed in a high-profile feud with The Undertaker, and that's great and all, but he did so while being some sort of deranged “stalker”, and nobody was buying it. Throw in the fact that he was destroyed by Taker and Kane at almost every turn, and you have a fail right from the start.
A little over a week after the 2002 Rumble, Page would become the European Champion by defeating Christian, who he would defeat in a rematch at WrestleMania 18, before dropping the title to William Regal a few days later. A few weeks after dropping the title, he suffered a neck injury in a match with Hardcore Holly. At the time, the injury was thought to be career-ending, and it was the end of his time in the spotlight as a wrestler, even though he did return to the ring for a brief stint with TNA a couple years later.
Since retiring, he has gone on to transform people's lives with his DDP Yoga program, as well as with that positive attitude that he was notorious for. He's making a bigger impact on society than he ever could have as a wrestler, and he should be commended for that. You still have to say that he was touched by the curse, though. His career looked like it was back on the upswing after the Rumble, but he was forced to “retire” within a few months.
2003 – Eddie Guerrero
This is never an easy entry to write. Even after all this time, I still get sad when I think about Eddie Guerrero. I don't think that will ever change. If you need this entire entry to be explained to you, I'm not even sure how or why you're on this particular site reading this particular column, so let's just skim through it.
Things started off well for Eddie, as he would be the WWE Champion a year later, finally reaching the top of the wrestling world after a long 17-year journey. It was an emotional time for fans, and for good reason. However, 21 months after he won the title, he was dead. Heart failure struck him down at the age of 38. This is, perhaps, one of the cruelest versions of the curse. His in-ring career took off over the next year after he was #14, but his life was taken shortly thereafter. Very, very sad.
2004 – Rikishi
There were a lot of ups and downs in Rikishi's career, from attempted pushes to character changes, but by the time the 2004 Rumble rolled around, he was enjoying some of the best success he had seen. He had dabbled in the main event scene for a while, even though he never won a World Title, and he was getting some of the biggest reactions of anyone in the company.
A couple weeks after the Rumble, he won the WWE Tag Team Titles with Scotty 2 Hotty. Their reign was of a “normal” length, lasting about two-and-a-half months. Three months after dropping the titles, Rikishi was given his pink slip, released from the company after not complying with their requests to lose weight. He never even came close to reaching the same heights in his in-ring career again.
It isn't all sad, though, of course. He would go on to become a WWE Hall Of Famer, inducted in 2015. He has watched his sons, Jimmy and Jey Uso, go on to become stars in the business themselves. There was happiness to come, but it's another instance of someone entering the Rumble at #14, only to find themselves out of a job within months. That's a curse specialty.
2005 – Orlando Jordan
When I talk to people about “The Curse” and Orlando Jordan's name comes up, they automatically think that he was one of the victims. Surprisingly enough, that isn't the case. A month after this Rumble spot, he won the United States Title, and would be the champion for nearly six months, making it the longest reign of any United States Champ since “Stunning” Steve Austin held it in WCW for the first eight months of 1994. Yes, his reign came to an end in a match that lasted 25 seconds, but that doesn't take away from anything, in my opinion.
To be fair, Jordan was released from WWE in mid-2006. That shows, once again, that the curse is always lurking, but he was able to go on and wrestle in Europe successfully after his release. His run in TNA was more newsworthy for his character pushing the boundaries of sexuality in wrestling than for anything he actually did in the ring, but you can't win em all, I guess. I think you would agree with me that the curse didn't strike him.
2006 – Joey Mercury
At the 2006 Rumble, Mercury was one-half (with Johnny Nitro) of the WWE Tag Team Champions. It was their third reign together, and this one would last until late-May. Mercury would then be hit with a 30-day suspension for a Wellness Policy violation. Once his suspension was up, he still wasn't allowed back on television and was sent to drug rehab.
He would finally make his return in late-November, eventually setting up a four-team Ladder Match at the following month's Armageddon pay-per-view. This was the event where Mercury took a ladder to the face, suffering one of the more gruesome injuries in wrestling history, breaking his nose and orbital bone. He needed more than 30 stitches to close his face up. After returning from the injury, he would go on to be released from his contract a couple months later because of his continued battle with drug addiction, made worse by a new addiction to painkillers after the Armageddon injury.
The curse hit him hard, but at least he can say there has been a turnaround in his story. He cleaned himself up, and was hired by WWE once again. He is currently a Producer for the company, and was an on-screen performer not that long ago, working with Jamie Noble in the underrated J&J Security role for Seth Rollins and The Authority. Still doesn't change the fact that he had quite the rough go of it after entering a Rumble in the #14 position.
2007 – Jeff Hardy
2007 was a really good in-ring year for Jeff Hardy. After being one of WWE's most popular acts for years, 2007 was the year Jeff arrived in the main event scene as a singles star. It was the beginning of a run that saw him win a total of six World Titles between WWE and TNA, so, at first glance, this doesn't seem like such a bad thing. Jeff's luck outside the wrestling ring wasn't as good, though.
It started off innocently enough. In the summer of 2007, he was out of action for about a month to let his body recover from various nagging injuries. In March of 2008, he was popped for his second Wellness Policy violation, giving him an unplanned 60-day vacation, which caused him to miss WrestleMania 24, where he was supposed to be a participant in the Money In The Bank Ladder Match (as the rumor goes, he was originally scheduled to win the match). Mere days after his suspension, his home in North Carolina burned to the ground, killing his dog in the process. September 2008 saw him barred from boarding a Southwest Airlines flight because employees deemed him to be too intoxicated. Before the end of 2009, Jeff was gone from WWE, as he needed more time to rest, suffering from herniated discs in his back and Restless Legs Syndrome at the time.
Think that's the end of it? Think again.
Within a couple weeks of his WWE release, Jeff was arrested on charges of drug trafficking after a search of his home found 262 Vicodin pills, 180 Soma pills, 555 milliliters of anabolic steroids, cocaine residue, and drug paraphernalia. He plead guilty and received a $100,000 fine, as well as two-and-a-half years of probation and ten days of jail time.
He signed with TNA after his legal issues cleared up, but that wasn't without controversy. A year after signing with the company, Jeff participated in one of the most embarrassing moments in wrestling history. At the 2011 Victory Road pay-per-view, he was supposed to face Sting in a No Disqualification Match for the TNA World Title. His match lasted all of 90 seconds and ended with a shoot-style pin by Sting. Company officials ordered the match ending to change at the last minute because they felt Jeff was too intoxicated to wrestle. Why they even bothered to send him out on live programming if they knew he was in such bad shape, I'll never know, but the fact was that Jeff embarrassed himself in front of the wrestling world.
Everyone you talk to says that Jeff has worked very hard in the years since Victory Road to turn his life around. His personal demons have been a tough battle for him, but if he's currently winning that battle, that's great news. He certainly had more than his fair share of problems, though, and a lot of them snowballed since January 2007, when he had his #14 entry in the Royal Rumble. That's quite the curse.
2008 – Umaga
Leading up to the previous year's Royal Rumble, Umaga was one of WWE's biggest rising stars. He was working in the main event picture, leading to a Match Of The Year candidate at the Rumble with John Cena. He looked like he was poised to become the next big heel for the company, but his feud with Cena was more to give Cena a major obstacle to overcome (go figure) than to actually get Umaga over.
He had a good run in the 2008 Rumble, lasting over 26 minutes and just about making it to the final four. However, the summer of 2008 saw him tear a ligament in his knee, causing him to miss six months of action. He returned on January 30th, 2009 and floated around in a couple feuds that went nowhere... only to be released from the company four months later. News broke that he had his second Wellness Policy violation, and when he refused to go to rehab, the company decided to fire him.
Six months after being released... Eddie “Umaga” Fatu was dead. At 36 years old, he shuffled off this mortal coil due to a heart attack, and the official cause of death listed as acute toxicity from a combination of hydrocodone (painkiller), carisoprodol (Soma muscle relaxers), and diazepam (Valium anti-anxiety medication). Yet another unfortunate wrestling “statistic”.
It really does boggle the mind to think about guys like this, spiraling out of control, falling so hard, so fast. It gets even crazier when you think about it happening to guys soon after they enter a Royal Rumble in the 14th spot.
2009 – Finlay
When you think of the rough, rugged style of wrestling in the United Kingdom, and the tough wrestlers to be birthed by the style, Dave “Fit” Finlay is almost always one of the first names that comes to mind. He was never going to “wow” you with flips and acrobatics. No, as his WWE entrance theme so eloquently put it, he simply loved to fight. He had a successful in-ring career all over the world before settling down in America with WCW and then WWE, where he was a solid midcard performer for years.
This Royal Rumble curse has hit many people, but it's hard to make a full argument that Finlay is one of those people. Two years after his #14 spot, he was fired from WWE. Working as a Producer, he put together a house show segment that saw The Miz interrupt the American national anthem in order to gain extra heel heat. Many in attendance were offended, and someone had to pay for it. Finlay, to his credit, took full responsibility for what he did. Instead of it truly being curse-induced, it ended up being nothing more than a minor bump in the road. After wrestling on the independent scene for a year, Finlay was rehired by WWE in the same Producer role, which is a gig he has had ever since.
Maybe the curse was simply afraid of messing with someone who has the legitimate tough guy reputation that Finlay has?
2010 – MVP
MVP was always an interesting person to talk about when he was in WWE. Many people felt that he was a future main event star. They felt he had a unique “look” to go with his in-ring skills, natural charisma, and mic skills. Whether you agree with that or not, though, things just never came together for him in that way.
His 2010 was pretty pedestrian, by all standards. He was always involved in some sort of a title feud, but he lost every single one of his big matches, basically treading water all year long. Eventually, he would ask the company for his release, and would be granted that release in December. He would then go to New Japan, where he became the company's first IWGP Intercontinental Champion, but that ended up not really going anywhere, either. After New Japan, it was TNA that would come knocking on the man's door.
His arrival in TNA was met poorly by fans. He came in as a kayfabe “investor” in the company, and nobody was buying it. After a heel turn, it was rumored that he was scheduled to become the next TNA World Champion, but right before that could happen, he blew out his knee. He would be replaced in the story by Bobby Lashley, who would go on to become the new champion. Once he returned to the ring after his injury, he never had the same momentum he had before he took time off. After a few months of not doing much, he was released after a contract dispute between TNA and Lucha Underground.
Speaking of LU, they would go on to hire MVP in March of last year. One week later, he was released after inadvertently violating the terms of his contract by interviewing members of the LU roster for his podcast. It was one of the sillier ways to be fired that we've seen in wrestling.
All of that adds up, folks. He fell down the proverbial totem pole in WWE, was unable to find anything lasting anywhere else, and has been released by two different companies for dumb reasons. Sounds like a curse victim to me.
2011 – Chris Masters
When you look at Chris Masters, it's like you're staring at a Vince McMahon wet dream come true. He received a few different pushes, of various sizes, all without being able to wrestle all that well. But hey, he had a really good physique, so... good for him, I guess.
By the time 2011 rolled around, though, his pushes were a thing of the past. He had been relegated to a comedy role that was only making shows like Superstars. Whenever he would appear on a top line show, he would lose. During the festivities of the 2011 Draft, Masters was sent over to Raw, but never appeared in a match on the show. Three months after the Draft, WWE released him altogether. A few months later, he posted a selfie on Twitter with a gun aimed at his head, and received a lot of heat for it. He was rumored to have been drunk at the time, but was forced to apologize and to try and convince the world that he didn't want to kill himself. All in all, another instance of someone entering the Rumble at #14, then not even having their WWE job soon thereafter, followed by shenanigans outside the ring.
2012 – Jinder Mahal
Jinder's first WWE run was, in a word, boring. Outside of his initial feud with The Great Khali, does anyone really remember anything he did for the first year-and-a-half of his tenure, until he became a member of 3MB? I didn't think so. His biggest push came when he was sent back to developmental, right after the company rebranded Florida Championship Wrestling into NXT. As a participant in the Gold Rush Tournament to crown the very first NXT Champion, Jinder made it all the way to the finals before losing to Seth Rollins.
3MB happened about eight months after the Rumble, and was as close to entertaining as he ever got. It never went anywhere, of course, because they were just comic relief, but at least it was something. Once he was released from his contract in June 2014, we all assumed that would be the last we would see of him.
Unfortunately, we were wrong. He returned to WWE last year, and still hasn't done much of anything, other than make everyone wonder when his new physique would lead to a Wellness Policy violation. He was cursed with the inability to be exciting and entertaining, but that has nothing to do with this particular curse, which has avoided him to this point.
2013 – Rey Mysterio
The “ultimate underdog”, Rey Mysterio has had himself an amazing career, becoming one of the most popular wrestlers of all-time. He has wrestled an exciting, high-flying style of matches since 1989, and it was taking its toll on his body after all those years.
His appearance in the 2013 Rumble was his first televised match of any kind in about a month-and-a-half, thanks to needing time to rest injuries. After the Rumble, he wrestled two more matches before injuring his knee, sending him back on the shelf for eight months. Five months after making his return from that knee injury, he had to take more time off because of a wrist injury... and he hasn't wrestled for WWE since. That's 15 televised matches wrestled in 2014, which followed 11 in 2013, 30 in 2012, and 42 in 2011. Since his WWE contract expired, he had what a lot of people called an uninspired run with the AAA promotion in Mexico before making his Lucha Underground debut last year.
This is a tough one. Yes, he was hit hard with the injury bug after being in the 2013 Rumble, but he was also hit hard by that bug before the Rumble, as well. What works in favor of the curse is that his injuries became more frequent and more severe after his Rumble appearance, so that's what we'll mark it down as.
2014 – Kevin Nash
While it wasn't as memorable as his surprise return as Diesel in the 2011 Rumble, it was still a surprise to see Nash appear in the 2014 edition. It popped the nostalgia-crazy fans, but it wasn't all that eventful. A couple months later, he inducted his best friend into the WWE Hall Of Fame, which had to be an absolute thrill for him, especially considering everything Scott Hall went through to reach that point.
On Christmas Eve 2014, Nash was arrested for battery against his son. WWE suspended him when they found out, but once charges were dropped, he was reinstated with no problem.
A year after doing an induction speech for the Hall Of Fame, he needed to write a different speech... this time accepting his own induction. It was long overdue. It's tough to say that anything about him was cursed after the 2014 Rumble. Not exactly a lot of in-ring action, but that was by design. On top of that, he saw some great moments in his personal life, also getting to watch his friend achieve a milestone. That's pretty much going in the opposite direction of the curse.
2015 – Diamond Dallas Page
We have history here, ladies and germs. The first person to get the dreaded #14 spot twice. If you have a short attention span, or you have merely skimmed through this column, DDP was hit by the curse after entering at #14 in 2002, thanks to what was a serious neck injury at the time.
With everything that has happened to #14 entrants through the years, you would almost think someone in charge has to have heard something about the curse by now. In that case, giving Page that number for a second time seems like cruel and unusual punishment. This time around, it seems like the curse might have met its match. As mentioned before, Page has gone on to have a successful career pitching DDP Yoga, as well as helping to take some of his best friends from the business and turn their lives around for the better. The work he has done with Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Scott Hall is incredible, and that isn't even counting what DDP Yoga has done for the lives of people like Mick Foley, Big Show, and the countless other wrestlers, past and present. He's out there doing genuine good for the world. He's someone that is easy to root for, and here's to hoping that avoiding the curse the second time around is something that continues on.
2016 – Stardust
Just to get it out of the way... yes, it's only been a year since this took place. Some of the people on this list who have been cursed saw their negativity come their way well after a calendar year had passed. With that said, we can still look back at the last 12 months and come up with an early hypothesis, so that's what is happening here.
Four months after this Royal Rumble appearance, Cody Rhodes was released from his contract.
If we're being fair, he requested that release, and it was granted to him. It's not as if his pink slip caught him by surprise. He had been using the Stardust gimmick for nearly two years, and has gone on record saying that he wasn't enjoying it. He says that he begged and pleaded with members of the WWE Creative Team to end the gimmick for over six months, but was denied each time, even when he pitched his own stories and ideas to make it happen. That frustration built and built, and he couldn't take it anymore.
Since his departure, he has gone on to make several independent appearances that received a lot of hype and publicity. He began working for EVOLVE, facing people like Chris Hero and Zack Sabre Jr. He went to Northeast Wrestling and had a match with Kurt Angle. He went to PWG and participated in their annual Battle Of Los Angeles tournament. He went to Ring Of Honor. He went to TNA. He went to New Japan. He has certainly kept himself busy, so he's damn sure not suffering because he isn't with WWE anymore.
Add him to the list of people who were no longer working for WWF/WWE within months of entering the Royal Rumble at #14, but his story doesn't end there. The others saw personal or professional downfalls continuing after their release from the company. Thus far, Cody has seen his career thrive, and he seems to be a lot happier about things. One year out, the curse has yet to strike.
There you have it. A comprehensive look at the curse of the #14 spot. Now, here we are, as the 2017 edition of the Rumble is right around the corner. Every year, fans get excited when they watch and see the ten-second countdown hit their screens, eagerly anticipating who will be entering the match next. This merely adds a little more intrigue to a certain number. Who do you think will get this year's #14 spot? Hit me up on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage) or leave your comments below, and remember this column when that moment arrives.
By the way, just for the sake of being complete, my personal prediction for this year's #14 entrant is Rhyno. No reason. Just a guess.