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.
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