Pro wrestling is mercurial business in which someone can be a star one day and treated as persona non grata the next. This is particularly true in WWE which features a unique combination of factors as the largest wrestling company in the world. WWE has a corporate structure that answers to advertisers, mainstream media, and stockholders. By the same token, there are also many ways in which it’s an old school wrestling promotion, wherein talent are subject to the creative juices of people like Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, and Triple H, not to mention their personal opinions and whims.
In order for Vince McMahon to blacklist a talent, though, he or she needs to have done more than rub somebody the wrong way. Sometimes it’s a matter of bad decisions that reflected poorly upon the company. Sometimes it’s a matter of aligning with a different wrestling company in direct competition with WWE. Other times there are matters of attitude and ego that cloud a wrestler’s trajectory, making them seem like a bad fit for the culture of the locker room. In the end, because WWE is such a big company with so much exposure, they tend to get their pack of the talents they want to feature, and rarely feel a need to work with someone McMahon himself doesn’t feel is a fit.
This article takes a look back to far as the '80s, early in McMahon’s reign atop wrestling, to as recently as the last few years at fifteen women whom he more or less banned from WWE.
15 Zahra Schreiber
Zahra Schreiber was a WWE developmental talent. She was a pretty face, was athletic, and even had some positive politics going for her in getting romantically linked to rising star Seth Rollins. Schreiber unfortunately found herself linked to two separate photo scandals in 2015 that effectively put an end to her WWE main roster dreams.
First, while Schreiber was linked to Rollins, there was also the inconvenient truth that Rollins was engaged to another woman. When a naked photo of Schreiber showed up on Rollins’s Twitter (it’s still unclear if he made a mistake or was hacked), it was automatically reposted to WWE’s website. This all would have been bad enough, but Rollins’s fiancée responded by posting a nude photo of him to social media to only intensify the scandal.
Things got worse for Schreiber later in the year, when old photos of her surfaced that prominently featured a swastika. WWE immediately released her. Though Schreiber claimed that she was trying to reclaim the symbol for its meaning pre-Nazis, no one was quite ready to accept that, and it’s safe to say WWE won’t be welcoming back Schreiber anytime soon.
In the early days of the Attitude Era, Sable’s popularity exploded. Her rise was based in a storyline of her playing a victim to increasingly heelish behavior of her boyfriend Marc Mero, until she stood up for herself and fought him, Luna Vachon, and Goldust, before transitioning to a role as a wrestler more fully. Sable was the reason WWE brought back the Women’s Championship at the time, and there’s a pretty fair argument to be made that she was more over than anyone but top stars like Steve Austin and The Rock at the time.
In a case of kayfabe mirroring reality, Sable developed an ego. She turned heel on screen, and by a variety of accounts became quite unpopular in the real world wrestling locker room because of how highly she thought of herself (not to mention the perspective of some that she was an inexperienced pretty face stealing TV time and revenue from better talents). In the end, it seemed Sable wasn’t happy with WWE and WWE wasn’t happy with her, so she left on less than amicable terms in 1999, only to proceed to file a lawsuit against the company for sexual harassment shortly thereafter.
Needless to say, McMahon wanted nothing to do with Sable at the time, though he did eventually soften and take her back into the fold four years later, in a one of the truest demonstration of McMahon being able to put aside personal opinion if there’s a clear business interest.
Chyna was one of the biggest female stars WWE ever had. She was a powerful woman who could legitimately hang with male performers physically, and came at just the right time of the Attitude Era to wind up featured prominently in exactly that role—as a badass woman who spent most of her tenure wrestling in the male ranks.
For as much as Chyna accomplished, including winning the Intercontinental Championship, working TV main events, and getting a respectable run in the Royal Rumble, you’d think WWE would want to celebrate her legacy. Chyna and WWE fell on the outs with each other, though, when her real life boyfriend Triple H left her for Stephanie McMahon. From there, Chyna planted herself on the outs with the company when, after leaving, she got involved in adult films, not to mention legal issues involving drugs and domestic violence. In recent years, Triple H has publicly commented that that’s why she’s not a Hall of Famer. For a family friendly company, WWE doesn’t want itself affiliated with everything Chyna did in the last decade or so of her life.
12 AJ Lee
AJ Lee had one of the most unlikely trajectories of any WWE star, male or female. She started out on the nationally televised NXT series as a nerdy underdog during the all-female season. She became a fan favorite to the point that WWE pushed her huge from 2011 to 2012, including featured placement during Daniel Bryan’s first World Heavyweight Championship reign as his kayfabe girlfriend, a run as the GM of Raw, and a pairing with John Cena that led to partnership with Dolph Ziggler. After the dust had settled from her main event placement, Lee became the dominant figure in the women’s division, holding the Divas Championship for a then-record 295 days.
Behind the scenes, Lee found herself involved in a relationship with CM Punk. Early on, this may have come across as something of a WWE dream couple of two top shelf stars. However, Punk grew increasingly disgruntled with WWE, leading to his abrupt departure and then all sorts of legal issues with WWE. While Lee seemed largely untouched by her boyfriend’s standing in the company, rumor has it she also developed some discontent, and wound retiring early from the wrestling business to live happily ever after with Punk.
On her own merits, WWE may well be willing work with Lee again someday, but given the heated nature of their situation with CM Punk, it’s unlikely McMahon would welcome her back while the two are still together.
The Kharma experiment may go down as one of the all time great WWE anti-climaxes, and particularly one for which huge real life events trumped storylines.
In an era when WWE was squarely focused on marketing models as female wresters, the company uncharacteristically signed Kharma, one of the great female stars of her generation, who was anything but a stick figure model. The company successfully built some early intrigue around her through a series of vignettes, followed by her coming to the ring to decimate female performers and stalk Kelly Kelly.
The angle came to an abrupt end when Kharma got pregnant in real life. She delivered an emotional promo that blurred the lines between story and reality, culminating in what looked like it could have been a face turn after the Bella Twins heelishly teased her. Kharma would very sadly suffer a real life miscarriage. She had just one more appearance on WWE TV as a rare female Royal Rumble competitor. Later, she would share that she had been released from the company because she wasn’t ready to return to the ring in the timeline given to her.
Under the circumstances, WWE could conceivably welcome back Kharma when she’s in a good head space and physically prepared. Neither side seemed particularly pleased with the outcomes of their grand experiment, though, and as Kharma broaches 40, the ship has likely sailed on McMahon wanting to work with her.
10 The Kat
The Kat became a pretty big star for WWE during the Attitude Era. She was first used as a manger to Jeff Jarrett, then as Chyna’s sidekick, and then as an exhibitionist used heavily for sexualized stunts like showing up dressed in nothing but bubble wrap, later having choreographed wardrobe malfunctions, and working Stinkface Matches with Terri Runnels.
For as much as The Kat was a hit for this period, and seemed to have additional job security for being married to established color commentator Jerry Lawler, WWE let her go in 2001. Lawler claims it was on account of changed creative decisions; others have suggested it was a matter of The Kat having a poor attitude backstage. Regardless, McMahon must have felt strongly to have abruptly severed ties with a popular star, and one who cost him Lawler for several months, when he walked from the company out of solidarity.
9 Wendi Richter
Wendi Richter hit the stratosphere in the mid-1980s, in a huge case of the right person showing up at the right place in the right time. After The Fabulous Moolah had dominated the Women’s Championship scene, WWE was looking for a fresh face in the dawn of the WrestleMania era. Richter was one of a number of talents Moolah handled real life bookings for and she happened to get the call to beat her mentor, and take off as a superstar in her own right.
As Richter’s popularity soared, she reportedly approached Vince McMahon for more money, only for him to respond by abruptly taking the title off her in what has been labeled the original screwjob. He set the scene for a masked Moolah to steal a pin off of an uncooperative Richter. Richter and WWE were upset with each other and she wouldn’t be seen or meaningfully referenced in WWE programming for well over a decade to follow, until WWE finally closed the chapter and extended the olive branch by inducting Richter into its Hall of Fame.
8 Ryan Shamrock
The story of Ryan Shamrock, on camera and behind the scenes is a strange one. She was booked to come in as Ken Shamrock’s kayfabe sister to open some new storytelling possibilities for him. Before long, Ken and Ryan started dating in real life, which purportedly inspired Vince McMahon to suggest an incest angle between the two of them in storylines. Both performers rejected the idea.
The refusal to pursue McMahon’s story, and, according to Ryan, her refusal to sign a five year contract, put her on the outs with WWE and she was released from the company. To drive a nail in the coffin of potentially reconciling down the road, Ryan immediately moved on to WCW where she was first a Nitro Girl and then managed The Maestro while working for WWE’s competition.
7 Missy Hyatt
After getting over in smaller promotions as a top female manager, Missy Hyatt had a very brief stint with WWE, hosting a talk show segment called Missy’s Manor. For those who saw the segments, which never made it to air, they were pretty universally agreed to be terrible. Those parties in agreement included Vince McMahon and Missy Hyatt herself, who agreed to part ways.
Perhaps Hyatt could have found her way back to WWE. She certainly did get over as a sex symbol in WCW, before sex symbols were really in vogue in mainstream wrestling. Her success wasn’t much of a corporate fit for WWE’s family friendly interests at the time, though. By the time the company was ready to embrace stars like Sunny and then Sable, Hyatt was already aging out of the role.
Take bad timing and a bad fit, and add in Hyatt’s work in softcore entertainment post-wrestling and you have someone that WWE simply does not recognize, and no one should hold their breath about ever being welcomed into the fold.
6 Ashley Massaro
Ashley Masssaro was a Diva Search winner who seemed to represent about everything that was wrong about the Diva Search concept and WWE’s approach to hiring and promoting female performers at the time. Models had a tendency to get the most attention, while actual wrestling was, at best a secondary concern.
So, Massaro hung around the company for about three years before she said that she had asked for her release to tend to a family health issue. In the aftermath, Massaro would enter a class action suit against WWE related to head injuries. More notably, she claimed that she was sexually assaulted during a WWE trip to a military base in Kuwait, and that the company compelled her to sweep it under the rug to avoid public relations issues.
If Massaro’s claims are legitimate, it’s a huge black eye for WWE. If they aren’t, she’s stirred up a lot of trouble for the company. In either case, it’s little surprise Vince McMahon now wants nothing to do with her.
5 Ivelisse Velez
Ivelisse Velez is that rare performer who arguably got more famous for her work outside WWE than with it. Since 2014, she has been a featured star and even a Trios Champion for Lucha Underground, while she never made all that much headway in WWE.
Velez’s greatest claim to fame in WWE was a stint on Tough Enough that ultimately saw her get eliminated due to an injury. She carried on in WWE’s developmental system for two years before being released. Velez indicated in shoot interviews afterward that things went downhill for her in WWE after she spoke out against trainer Bill DeMott. DeMott was rumored to have bullied and been too hard on trainees for some time, and apparently speaking out against him didn’t win Velez any friends. She has since worked with a variety of indies and TNA, but seems to have found a home in Lucha Underground. There’s no indication Vince McMahon would be interested in re-signing her.
4 Alundra Blayze
There are those WWE employees who get blacklisted for subtle reasons, or for things that happen purely backstage and that fans will never fully understand. Alundra Blayze is a different story. After spending two years as the core of the women’s division—the face champion or top contender for pretty much her entire tenure—WWE let Blayze go as a cost-cutting measure during the Monday Night War and the dog days of WWE’s business.
WCW snatched Blayze, and prompted her to do the unthinkable. She brought the WWE Women’s Championship with her to Nitro and dumped it in a trash can on live TV. This was a huge insult to WWE—even if it was far more Eric Bischoff’s decision as a booker than it was Blayze’s—and left her on the outs with WWE over a decade and a half to follow. Finally, WWE did mend fences with Blayze in 2015, bringing her back for a Hall of Fame induction and to be a part of various WWE Network projects.
Blink and you might have missed Aloisia. She was a featured player in the build to season three of the weekly, nationally televised WWE NXT show. In the all-female season, Aloisia stood out for her impressive size, billed as the tallest Diva WWE had ever had.
Then she was gone.
While most women from the show probably could have disappeared at that point without many fans noticing, Aloisia was arguably the most publicized new talent for the season. WWE offered a kayfabe explanation that she couldn’t get along with her “pro” mentor Vickie Guerrero, but by all accounts, the real reason for Aloisia’s abrupt release was that WWE had come upon graphic, revealing images of the new star and no longer wanted to be affiliated with her.
There’s a pretty fair argument that no one has risen higher faster, nor fallen off a steeper cliff in her WWE standing than Paige. She was one of the youngest NXT signees ever and reigned over a newly retooled, more serious women’s division there before transitioning to the main roster after she’d reached 21 years of age and immediately winning the Divas Championship from AJ Lee. She would continue to be featured heavily over the year and a half to follow.
A lot has happened since. First, Paige got pushed to the side a bit in favor of WWE featuring Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks. From there, she started a relationship with Alberto Del Rio that management frowned upon, got into Wellness Policy issues, and had to have neck surgery that kept her out of the ring more formally for months. From there, she endured the leak of videos and photos that captured her in sexual situations and full nudity, and has most recently been embroiled in a domestic violence scandal with Del Rio.
It seems Paige’s only saving grace, and perhaps the only reason she’s still under WWE contract is a biopic WWE is involved with to tell her life story. It’s unclear if or how that project will move forward at this point, but in any event, it seems unlikely Paige will appear on WWE programming anytime soon.
1 Nicole Bass
When folks think of imposing female powerhouses of the Attitude Era, Chyna’s name springs to mind. Nicole Bass may be less well remembered, but the former competitive bodybuilder roamed the WWE landscape throughout 1999. She was first cast as Sable’s bodyguard, then feuding with Debra and colluding with Ivory. She left the company pretty abruptly, though, afterward claiming sexual harassment, in particular implicating Steve Lombardi, better known as The Brooklyn Brawler, in assaulting her.
The case was dismissed and Bass was, from there on, done with WWE, though she did continue on the indie circuit for a bit after leaving. WWE largely swept her involvement with the company under the rug and did not go so far as to publicly acknowledge her passing in early 2017.
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