It can be hard to work for Vince McMahon. He’s well known for a rather strange attitude with numerous bizarre backstage rules that guys have to adhere to. Vince also has his views on wrestling and infamous for snap judgements that go horribly wrong. Many guys are able to skate on stuff that should have gotten them axed (JBL and Roman Reigns) while others are fired for things that seem downright trivial. So wrestlers know that to work for WWE runs the risk of getting the axe without warning for something you may not even realize was bad. WWE has hired some of these folks back but still notable how others got fired for odd reasons.
This brings us as well to the current roster and how a lot of WWE stars clearly have a time limit on them. Some are actually great workers, other most lost in the shuffle but they all have a variety of issues that make it highly probable they’re getting pink slips soon. It may not be fair but it’s how Vince works for better and worse. Here are 10 times Vince fired someone for the most ridiculous and wild reasons. And 10 WWE workers who should be getting ready to start hitting the unemployment line.
20 FIRED: Brad Maddox
One of the final stars of OVW during their working relationship with WWE, Maddox had a good style and drive and holding the OVW title. He spent time in FCW and then to WWE with the idea of a ref dreaming of becoming a wrestler. This led to some wild angles with CM Punk and others and some decent matches. He even achieved some fame by being dressed as a turkey and Tombstoned by The Undertaker on the Tonight Show. Maddox had a cocky style that was clicking and known for going into business for himself doing wild stuff at house shows.
This bit him badly when, at an Indianapolis show, he got on the mic to call the crowd a bunch of “cocky pri---s!” Maddox thought it was just a good way to get cheap heat but was fired for it, which he argues against, as he’s seen others doing worse stuff at shows without punishment. Regardless, firing a guy for acting like the jerk he’s playing seems like a silly thing to do.
19 NEXT: Bayley
Fired for not being popular enough? It seems crazy but that might well happy to Bayley. She was an NXT sensation, monster over with her hugging and great presence. Her matches with Sasha Banks were tremendous and boosted her to fame as NXT champion. Her debut on RAW was hailed as a great moment and fans were ready to accept her. But WWE has messed it up massively, her underdog quality ruined by winning the title fast off of Charlotte and their rematches lackluster. Her feud with Alexa Bliss has been wretched and somehow, Bayley is the one being blamed despite how it’s not her fault. It seems WWE is ready to put the blame on her not doing well and ignore how it’s their booking that’s killed her heat. Right now rehabbing an injury, it’s a shame a woman who loved wrestling is seeing her dreams ruined and likely to be dropped soon.
18 FIRED: Aloisia
Much has been made of the “Women's Revolution” and how WWE is emphasizing real female workers. However, the firing of Aloisia aka Isis shows the company still has issues with handling women. At 6’8” and able to bench press 700 pounds, this worker lived up to her nickname of “The Amazon”, impressing more than any woman since Chyna. She appeared on NXT (back when it was a reality show) and the promise of her breaking out was huge.
But then she was shockingly released. WWE put out the idea she was “too green” but it came out the real reason was that racy photos of her had been unearthed. Given how WWE has never shied from ladies showing it all in Playboy, to fire a talented worker for this was more than a bit ridiculous. It’s gotten bigger since several ladies have had nude photos released but kept on and one wishes WWE had stuck with this Amazon.
17 NEXT: Dolph Ziggler
Frankly, it’s less “fired” than “refusing to return” but it’s been damn obvious it’s going to happen. For years, Dolph Ziggler was a top guy in WWE, pushed with the World title, various other belts and looked great. He had the charisma, the skills, all of it to get ahead. However, his main event runs were lackluster and too often, WWE is clearly ignoring him for less talented guys. Ziggler has been very vocal about not being happy about his lack of progress and it shows. The recent bit of him “remaking” himself and then berating fans on how they’ll cheer for stupid stuff is clearly his own feelings and not making him friends.
Buzz has been building of Ziggler ready to walk when his contract expires and WWE is unlikely to go out of their way to keep him. He’s been a top star for a while but right now, it looks like both Ziggler and WWE won’t be looking to bring him back.
16 FIRED: Finlay
Dave Finlay is an “old school” guy in various ways. He’s a great worker and a top trainer, helping develop the original Divas into a top wrestling bunch. In his regular ring work, he’s had a few title runs and known for his hard-hitting style. But Finlay can sometimes go a bit too overboard and once, that got him in serious trouble.
In March of 2011, Finlay was in charge of a house show and decided to have the National Anthem be interrupted by The Miz. Finlay argued it was a great way for The Miz to get heel heat but the crowd responded in the totally wrong way. Worse was that several National Guardsmen were in attendance for the show and not at all happy about this interruption. It got WWE some bad press and Finlay was fired for it. To his credit, Finlay has accepted responsibility and admitted it was a bad move and has returned to WWE since, but it shows how guys can take some ideas to an extreme.
15 NEXT: Curt Hawkins
The man is being celebrated for losing 100 straight matches. If that’s not an indication he’s not long for this company, nothing is. That he’s employed is a surprise as Hawkins started out in FCW and NXT, some decent work, including tag titles with Zack Ryder but nothing too special. He drifted around before being let go and a run in TNA/GFW where he held gold again but nothing major and his run was short amid the company’s various financial issues. Thus, his return to WWE was a surprise but fans still had some mild hope. But it’s been for nothing, as Hawkins is just one step above pure jobber status and his losing streak just adds to his woeful run. It’s very likely he’ll be given the axe soon and most won’t shed tears as a guy boasting of his losing streak isn’t the type to get over well.
14 FIRED: Jim Ross
A famous 1996 angle had “Good Ole JR” talking about how Vince McMahon fired him in 1994 after a bout with cerebral palsy. Another famous incident was in 2005 when he had surgery and Vince did a video mocking him, something Ross himself says was in poor taste. But even after all that, it must have been a major shock for Ross when he got fired in 2013 for something that wasn't even his fault. At a big announcement for the roster of the latest WWE video game, Ric Flair went on a big rant talking about Ross as a hard-core drinker and other wild stories. Ross just let Flair run with it and most expected Flair to get some punishment for going wild. But instead, Ross was fired for supposedly not being able to keep Flair under control and most thought that completely unfair.
Thankfully, WWE has brought him back to call the occasional big match, but making Ross the fall guy for Flair was ridiculous.
13 NEXT: Titus O’Neil
While talented in the ring, Titus does have issues with attitude. He and Darren Young were good as The Prime Time Players, had a run as tag team champions and doing well (a lot better than his work with Heath Slater). But in 2016, O’Neill got into hot water when he grabbed and pulled Vince McMahon during a retirement tribute on RAW for Daniel Bryan. He was suspended (Vince initially wanted to fire him) which many thought was a serious overreaction on Vince’s part. Since then, Titus has been bouncing around the mid-card, right now rebuilding a bit but still not as hot as he once was. Given his past, it’s likely all it takes if one more seemingly screw-up for him to get axed. After all, if the guy can get a 60 day suspension just for putting a hand on Vince, what would it take to get him fired for little rational reason?
12 FIRED: Abraham Washington
One would think backing the boss would be a good thing for your career. Abraham Washington shows that’s not always the case. Washington had looked promising in FCW and then ECW, better suited as a commentator and interviewer than actually wrestling. He presented himself as a smart guy and pushing himself well and it looked like he’d found his niche. In 2012, he got some hot water with controversial comments both on air and on Twitter even as he became the manager for The Prime Time Players.
In 2012, he was let go but not for anything horrible he said. Rather, it was for tweeting support for Linda McMahon during her Senate run. Linda had wanted to distance herself from WWE and wrestlers were actively told not to come out in public for her. In other words, actually sticking up for the boss got Washington fired, a truly nutty reason for an axe.
11 NEXT: James Ellsworth
You have to give him credit. Anyone who thought this thin small guy with no chin would actually manage to be a star would have been laughed at. But Ellsworth’s nutty manner made him a fun person for crowds and played well for humor. It’s continued with him working with Carmella and his whacky hip-hop persona adding more life. But it looks like the joke may be over as Ellsworth is likely to be next in the wave of layoffs. He adds really nothing to the show as Carmella can get over on her own and many fans are upset about him ruining the first women’s MITB ladder match. He got over well but his heat is fading and maybe it's best WWE cuts him before he turns into the next guy sucking up too much air time over better talents.
10 FIRED: Emma
Emma is a classic case of someone who found out the hard way what gets over in front of 400 fans in Florida may not on the bigger roster. Emma looked fun with her whacky dancing that got her over but her attempts to break through on the main shows was poor. She went back to NXT for training and a better worker before another shot. In 2014, she was arrest for walking out of a Walmart without paying for a $21.84 iPad. She claimed she had simply forgotten her bank card and there were concerns this would violate her work visa so WWE announced her firing. But less than two hours later, they announced they’d hired her back and citing the whole thing as a misunderstanding. So while she continues to work today, it’s still notable how Emma has one of the briefest unemployment runs in wrestling history.
9 NEXT: Enzo Amore
It really looked like Enzo was catching fire with WWE. In NXT, his promos were soon the talk of the brand, fans soon chanting along with his “My name is…” entrance and his work with Cass getting over huge. On RAW, they were over fast but hampered by Enzo suffering a concussion. They bounced back and it looked good for a bit but lately, things are getting worse. Since their split, Enzo is being noted for being an obnoxious jerk who’s completely buying into his own hype. He flaunts his “standing” with other workers and his big pay despite how he’s done little of real impact as a singles star. It’s taking its toll on his push, going from RAW to 205 Live and not much going on with a real drive. It seems probable that Enzo is one dumb move away from getting the axe and few backstage will shed tears if this egotistical guy is gone.
8 FIRED: Gangrel
It’s ironic that the former Vampire Warrior was made out to be a big deal when he joined WWE but it was his proteges who became mega-stars. With his vampire look, Gangrel had the great entrance of rising up with flames and sipping from a cup of blood. He was decent in the ring but more important was his “Brood” of Edge and Christian, who ended up becoming two of the biggest stars in the company. Gangrel was left behind a bit and it affected him as did a bad leg injury. He basically let himself go, gaining weight and that affected his ring work. This led to the nutty bit where, in a 2001 match, his shirt was pulled off, showing off his very large gut. He was fired for the bad sight, a nutty punishment given WWE has pushed wrestlers far fatter than that. Maybe Vince was just on a weight loss kick at the time but a crazy reason to give someone the axe.
7 NEXT: Zack Ryder
He may be the modern poster boy for “burial jobs.” Lost for a bit, Ryder broke out huge in 2011 with his “Long Island Z” videos, his act soon taking off with fans. They fell in love with his style, his wicked promos, his humor and he was soon monster over. WWE gave him the US Title and it looked like the start of a great run. Then, in weeks, he lost the belt and a burial job he still hasn’t recovered from. Despite the fact fans clearly are behind him, all Ryder has achieved is a one-day run as IC champion, an okay tag team and too many ignored opportunities to build him more. It sounds like his time is running out and it would be damn annoying for WWE to cut a guy who just tried to live up to Vince’s “grab the brass ring” talk and got punished for it.
6 FIRED: Konnan
True, this is Konnan’s own account so maybe take this with a grain of salt. But still intriguing. In 1992, the Mexican star thought he got his big break, hired to WWE. However, he soon found it was to be wrestling under the infamous Max Moon gimmick and while grousing, he did his best. Konnan was a bit confused as to why he would get this gimmick as he was more a brawler than a high-flying worker but did his best. During a discussion, Konnan was mentioning other indie guys Vince could bring in, including the acclaimed Jushin “Thunder” Liger. Vince claimed to have never heard of him and given his record of ignoring indie talents, that can make sense.
However, Konnan just happened to recall a photo of Vince with Liger he’d seen a few years earlier and openly called him out on the lie. He was shown the door, showing how you shouldn’t remind Vince of a failing.
5 NEXT: Dana Brooke
For a while, Dana Brooke looked to be the next hot female star on the block. With her blonde hair, tight build and good looks, Dana was rising up in NXT, not the same level as other workers, but still looking promising. On RAW, she was teamed up with Charlotte and a storyline played out of her first supporting Charlotte but then turning on her after various abusive moments. That should have pushed her more but instead, Brooke has been lost.
The arrival of Alexa Bliss on the RAW roster means a much more talented blonde worker is getting attention and her dominance has been hurting Brooke’s standing. Word is that Brooke has lost some of her passion following the death of her boyfriend and while it may seem harsh for her to get punished for that, WWE can strangely be rather brutal. So the combination of bad timing and better workers makes it likely Brooke is cut sooner than people think.
4 FIRED: Highlander Robbie
Taking in the competition isn’t always a bad thing. As much as WWE dismisses TNA/GFW as an afterthought, it’s clear several guys do watch it, if only to be happy they’re not working at the company. But Robbie of the Highlanders decided to do it differently. He thought it’d be a great idea to actually go and take in a TNA show at the Impact Zone. Maybe he figured it’d be okay but forgot how TNA is obsessed with “showing up” WWE any chance they get. That meant getting Robbie on video and making a big deal of it despite how the guy was really little more than a midcard tag team worker. WWE took away his $5,000 Mania payday and then let him go. There is speculation that Robbie was unhappy with the company as it was and this may have been a ploy for his release but still a nutty way to get the axe.
3 NEXT: Becky Lynch
Becky Lynch should be credited for managing to come back from a career-ending neck injury to become a star. She was a key part of the “Divas Revolution” in NXT, her work with Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Bayley top notch and pushing the brand, and female wrestling, up more. At first a bit lost, Lynch bounced back to win the SmackDown Women’s title and a great job in the ring but hampered by injury. Since losing the belt to Alexa Bliss, Lynch is a bit lost again, the push for newer stars not doing well for her. With Natalya getting the title and a push for Carmella, Lynch is more ignored than usual. Charlotte is now the focus on SmackDown. Lynch may soon be let go simply for not being able to spark as much interest with fans as hoped.
2 FIRED: Paul London
Breaking character happens a lot in wrestling. In the old days, some promoters (Bill Watts for one) were clear that if a guy did it in the arena, he’d be fired immediately. As time has gone by, it’s been lessened, some workers breaking on air but not really chastised for it. Paul London is different. In 2007, WWE was about to embark on the infamous “Death of Mr. McMahon” program. It had a huge bit of Vince honored and then a slow walk to his limo with the locker room somber. Well, all except London, who had a big smile on his face and clearly laughing as if knowing how badly fans were going to take this entire angle.
When the episode was shown to Vince, he centered on London and had him fired on the spot. The guy was already floundering in WWE but it's still a nutty reason to let him go given how the entire program was a disaster.
1 NEXT: Paige
Her employment remains a surprise to many. There’s no denying Paige is good in the ring and a very sultry look. It got her over in NXT and a reign as Divas champion as well. But injuries have curtailed her push as well as some rough booking. She mainly maintained things through her fame on “Total Divas” and still looking hot. However, she’s run into more than a few rough patches. There has been failing drug tests, leading to suspensions and some bad press. Then there was the vide of her and Xavier Woods leaked with Paige coming off looking worse for it. To top it all off, there’s the mess of her and Alberto Del Rio that’s led Del Rio’s GFW career coming to a crashing halt. Right now, she’s rehabbing neck surgery but it seems very likely Paige is getting the pink slip, a move mainly believe long overdue for a talented but troubled woman.