In recent weeks, I have been analyzing the controversial careers of numerous past and present WWE Superstars as part of my Pushed to Punished series. This week's edition will be no different, as it'll be focusing on the deplorable downfall of former WWE Superstar Chris Masters.
Having made his WWE debut in February 2005, Chris Masters made an immediate impact on the Raw roster. Every member of the WWE Universe instantly took notice of the California native, as his chiseled physique was certainly something to behold.
As a heel, Masters plowed through all of his competition from the start. It wasn't until later in the year that he initiated the Master Lock Challenge, where he would lock in his signature Master Lock submission maneuver on an individual and see if they could break free of it.
Regardless of how much money was on the line, the Master Lock had never once been broken during this time. He remained undefeated over the course of the year and entered his first full-fledged feud in late August against Shawn Michaels, whom he was set to do battle against at that year's Unforgiven pay-per-view.
Although he came up short of defeating Michaels at the event, Masters still looked strong in defeat. This rivalry truly took Masters to the next level, as he started to set his sights on the WWE Championship shortly thereafter.
Following his feud with the Heartbreak Kid, Masters went to lose back-to-back matches that fall, as he was on the losing end of tag team matches at Taboo Tuesday and Survivor Series, respectively. This came as quite a shock to most people, as it seemed that WWE officials were fully behind Masters' aggressive push a few months prior.
His unique entrance, skill set and unadulterated strength made him one of the most unique Superstars on the roster, so it was mind-boggling why he was being so poorly booked in the final few months of 2005.
Nonetheless, Masters continued to pursue the WWE Championship by engaging in a feud with then-WWE champion John Cena. Apparently, officials still had faith in Masters as a potential top star of the company, so it was reassuring to see him featured in such a top-tier feud during his first year in WWE.
On the Nov. 28 edition of Raw, Masters received his first shot at the title against Cena and Kurt Angle in a Triple Threat match. During the course of the contest, Masters shockingly locked in the Master Lock on Cena, who was unable to escape the hold.
Sure, Masters was unsuccessful in capturing the prestigious prize that night, but he was still amongst the elite few to have knocked out John Cena. It was an impressive feat, to say the least, that only brought him more success in coming months.
At 2006's New Year's Revolution event, Masters was named one of the six participants in the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship. He was one of the final three remaining competitors before being double-crossed and eliminated by Carlito.
He made his Royal Rumble debut later that month but was once again taken out by Carlito. Despite their differences, the two joined forces and targeted then-World Tag Team champions Big Show and Kane going into WrestleMania 22.
The dynamic duo was squashed by Show and Kane on the grandest stage of them all and proceeded to part ways immediately following the event. Their dissension led to a match between the two at the following Backlash pay-per-view, which Carlito won via dirty tactics.
Needless to say, Masters got the short end of the stick during his partnership with Carlito, which seemed to serve no purpose whatsoever. He was now even further down the card, so his loss to his former friend at Backlash certainly didn't help matters.
He was involved in the Intercontinental Championship picture for a brief while before taking an extended leave of absence from television in mid-2006 due to an apparent addiction to painkillers. He returned to television in late August, sporting a new look that wouldn't last long.
Due to his absence, it came as no surprise that Masters was not involved in any prominent programs upon his return. He was mostly utilized as an enhancement talent for the remainder of the year, losing to the likes of John Cena, Super Crazy and even Jerry Lawler.
Things went from bad to worse for Chris Masters that December, when John Cena became the first person to win the Master Lock Challenge. Going into 2007, Masters would reignite his ruthless rivalry with Carlito, with the two familiar foes trading victories in the first few weeks of the new year.
Masters continued to flounder on the Raw roster in subsequent months, as Bobby Lashley became the first Superstar to break the Master Lock in mid-March. Unlike the previous year, Masters was not featured at WrestleMania in 2007 and was left on the sidelines for no apparent reason.
He chased Santino Marella for the Intercontinental Championship in the months of May and June but failed to win the title. Thankfully, Masters was sent packing to SmackDown via the 2007 WWE draft, where he'd be able to undergo some more seasoning.
Despite the change of scenery, Masters was hardly ever utilized on the blue brand before being suspended for 30 days that summer after violating the WWE Wellness Policy for the first time.
Although he resurfaced in early October, his return to television was short-lived, as he was later suspended in November for once again violating the WWE Wellness Policy and ultimately fired from WWE a few days later.
It was a major shame that Masters was booked as badly as he was in his final year with the company, but part of that might have been due to his own personal problems. That being said, Masters made an effort to turn his life around during his time away from the limelight and was determined to one day make it back to WWE.
In mid-2009, rumors ran rampant that Chris Masters had signed a contract to return to WWE, but it was unknown as to what role he would play. Many speculated that he would be the mystery tag team partner of Chris Jericho at that year's Night of Champions event, but that never came to fruition.
On the July 27 edition of Raw, The Masterpiece made his first televised appearance in nearly two years in a match against MVP. He prevented MVP from winning the bout but was on the losing end of the rematch the following week on Raw.
As you could tell, it didn't seem like much had changed for Masters, who was still stuck in no man's land despite his unlimited potential. He was relegated to WWE Superstars in subsequent months before undergoing a face turn that November, where he adopted a gimmick of dancing pecs.
The moniker garnered Masters some much-needed attention and scored him a regular spot on Raw each week. Eve acted as his valet for a number of months, but the two were forced to part ways when Masters was drafted back to SmackDown a part of the 2010 WWE supplemental draft.
While Masters was sparingly featured on the blue brand, he embarked on a lengthy winning streak over on WWE Superstars with various victories over the likes of JTG, Curt Hawkins and Chavo Guerrero. Furthermore, he was on the winning end of a five-on-five elimination tag team match at Survivor Series, aside from the fact that he wasn't a sole survivor.
He met his match in the re-debuting Tyler Reks, whom he feuded with for many months going into 2011. Although he came up short of defeating Reks in the start of their feud, he gradually gained momentum with wins over the former surfer during the month of March.
It was rumored that Masters was in line for a major push and repackaging following the Royal Rumble pay-per-view, but it unfortunately never came to fruition. He was involved in the fourth season of WWE NXT, but his rookie, Byron Saxton, failed to win the competition.
That April, Masters was shipped back to Raw via the 2011 WWE supplemental draft. However, he never made an appearance on the flagship show and mainly competed on WWE Superstars in a losing effort.
He wrestled his final WWE match against Jack Swagger on the Aug. 4 edition of WWE Superstars, where he scored a surprising victory over the former World Heavyweight champion. Despite having arguably one of the best matches of his career on that show, the Masterpiece was released from WWE the following day along with a number of others.
The following week on Raw, CM Punk praised Masters and the vast improvement he showed up to that point during his confrontation with John Laurinaitis. Masters also appeared in Los Angeles that Sunday where SummerSlam was held, asking fans why they thought he was cut from the company.
It was always believed that Triple H was strongly in favor of pushing Chris Masters, but it remains unknown as to why that push never materialized. He may not have been the best wrestler, but there's no doubting that he improved immensely during his second tenure with WWE.
While he worked much better as a heel, he managed to make the most out of his face run for nearly two years before being let go. It was truly a case of bad timing, as things started to take a turn for the better right around the time he was released.
He made a number of mistakes during his first tenure, so his departure in late 2007 didn't come as much of a shocker to most people. However, he managed to keep a clean slate during his second tenure, so he definitely wasn't deserving of the untimely firing.
Since then, Masters has competed for a number of independent companies, most notably TNA's Ring Ka King in late 2011. However, it wasn't until just recently that Masters made headlines when it was reported that he had saved his mother from a burning house, in what has to be considered one of the most heroic acts ever.
That being said, you have to think that there's no better time than now for Chris Masters to return to WWE. The fact that he never won a single championship during his time with WWE is an absolute travesty.
Of course, only time will tell as far as that goes, and one can only hope for the best. He is just yet another example of how WWE can abuse the abilities of a talented athlete by dropping the ball on them.
Thanks for reading, Bleachers, and be sure to drop a comment below with your thoughts on Chris Masters and his tragic tale. Also, include any other potential topics you'd like to see me analyze on next week's final edition of WWE Pushed to Punished for the time being.
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