The world of professional wrestling is a very strange place. While top promoters want you to believe that their companies aren’t that different from companies like Apple or the NFL, the truth of the matter is that wrestling’s roots can be traced back to traveling carnivals, bingo halls, and a whole lot of “fringes of society” living. As such, professional wrestling organizations occasionally do things that companies like Apple or the NFL would never do. As the famous country song says, you can blame it all on their roots.
While firing an employee is certainly not something that only wrestling companies do, the history of professional wrestling is filled with some downright bizarre stories of wrestlers being fired. In many ways, this is a direct carry-over from the old days of the business where a wrestler might be fired for something as simple as not being able to drink as much as the promotion’s stars. Of course, not every strange story of a wrestler being fired involves a mostly innocent party suffering at the hands of a cruel promoter. No, some wrestlers just simply did something so downright stupid that they might as well have dug their own grave. These are 15 wrestlers who were fired for shocking reasons.
15 Paul London - Smiling at Vince McMahon
If you’ve ever heard Paul London talk about his time in WWE, you’ll probably walk away with the impression that Vince McMahon ran over his dog or something. London hates WWE and has long regretted the time he spent with the company. Much of his hatred stems from the circumstances of his release. See, Paul London was one of many wrestlers asked to line-up in the back for a segment involving Vince McMahon. London didn’t know what the segment was about - it involved Mr. McMahon about to meet his demise in an exploding limo - so he decided to sport a stupid grin while he was on camera.
If you watch the broadcast, you can see Vince stop and give London a venomous look.Vince took the smile as a personal insult and fired London shortly after the segment aired.
14 Hade Vansen - Too Short to Wrestle The Undertaker
A running theme throughout this list is the way that Vince McMahon’s whims can make or break a potential superstar. If you happen to upset Vince McMahon for some strange reason, he’ll just let you go without hesitation. If you don’t believe us, just ask Hade Vansen. Vansen made his WWE “debut” in 2008 via a vignette in which he claimed to be coming after The Undertaker. About a week after the vignette aired, Vansen was quietly cut by WWE. Some years later, Vansen gave an interview in which he revealed that the popular story about his firing involved Vince McMahon seeing him in real life and determining that he was much too small to feud with The Undertaker. As such, he decided it would be easier to let him go.
13 Manu - Too Ugly
There is some debate regarding this story, so let’s start from the beginning. Many of you will remember when Randy Orton formed Legacy with fellow generational wrestlers Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr., but how many of you remember the fourth member of the group, Manu? Manu was the son of Afa and a member of the famous Anoaʻi family. Even though that family has historically done well in WWE, Manu only lasted a few weeks on the main roster. Some say that it was due to poor in-ring performance and Manu’s attitude problems. However, many state that Randy Orton ultimately decided that Manu was simply “too ugly” to be in the same faction as Orton, Rhodes, and DiBiase. Of course, if he had been better in the ring, that might have saved his job in the long run.
12 Sid Vicious - Stabbed Arn Anderson 20 Times With A Pair of Scissors
This legendary story occurred during the early ‘90s when WCW was touring Europe. After days of travelling, the on-tour roster found themselves in Frankfurt, Germany with a little down time. Naturally, many of them used this time to get drunk and take pills. Somewhere along the way, Arn Anderson and Sid Vicious got into a fight about the old generation holding the young generation back. This fight spilled from the bar to the hotel. Arn apparently grabbed a pair of scissors in an attempt to ward off Sid. While Arn stabbed Sid in the stomach a few times, Sid eventually grabbed the scissors and managed to stab Arn about 20 times in various places. At the end of it all, Sid and Arn were kicked out of the country, Arn was suspended, and Sid was fired.
11 Mickie James - Too Fat/Sleeping With John Cena
We would never accuse the WWE of being sexist given how serious such accusations are, but we will say that many female WWE employees over the years have been fired because of very odd circumstances. For instance, remember when WWE ran that angle in which Michelle McCool and Layla called Mickie James “Piggy James” due to her supposed weight gain? Well, apparently, this angle was written in order to shame Mickie over a few pounds she gained. Because she was fired shortly after the angle’s conclusion, it is believed that WWE finally decided to let her go over the supposed weight gain.
However, it’s also been suggested that James’ alleged affair with John Cena eventually inspired Cena to recommend that she be let go in order to avoid certain embarrassing situations.
10 Matt Morgan - Inability to Make a Stuttering Gimmick Work
Matt Morgan should have been a huge star in WWE. He was huge, fairly good looking, and wasn’t the worst wrestler on the planet. Vince has certainly made stars out of worse performers. Somewhere along the way, though, WWE just kind of gave up on the idea of Morgan ever becoming a real star and just decided to let him go. It was quite the surprising firing at the time, but recent years have revealed that the decision probably had something to do with Morgan’s awful stuttering gimmick. See, WWE’s “creative” team decided to book Morgan as a stuttering giant. When the gimmick predictably failed, they decided that it failed because of Morgan’s poor performance and this his inability to get such a great gimmick over meant that he just wasn’t going to be a star.
9 Curt Hennig - Getting Drunk and Wrestling Brock Lesnar on a Plane
Okay, so technically Hennig’s firing also had something to do with his substance abuse problems, but this was certainly the straw that broke the camel’s back. For those who have never heard the infamous “Plane Ride From Hell” story, just know that a bunch of famous WWE wrestlers got really, really drunk on a private plane ride from England and proceeded to do a bunch of very stupid things while in the air.
One of those stupid things saw Curt Hennig and Brock Lesnar get in an actual shoot fight right in the middle of the plane aisle. Reportedly, the two even knocked up against the emergency exit. Vince was livid about the entire thing and decided that Curt Hennig was going to take the lion’s share of the blame for the event. He was fired shortly after it occurred.
8 Alberto Del Rio - Slapping a Racist
Alberto Del Rio and WWE haven’t exactly had a smooth relationship over the years. It was clear WWE saw a lot of potential in Del Rio, but fundamental differences between the two parties has led to a lot of animosity. Of course, it didn’t help that WWE saw fit to fire him over slapping a racist backstage. The story goes that Del Rio was hanging out with some WWE employees backstage when former WWE social media manager Cody Barbierri suggested that Del Rio should have to wash his own catering dishes because he’s Mexican. Del Rio slapped him to the ground and Barbierri threatened to sue Del Rio and WWE for quite a bit of money. In order to avoid said lawsuit, WWE let Del Rio go.
7 Disco Inferno - Refusing to Beat Up a Woman
Disco Inferno was never one of WCW’s biggest stars, but he was constantly over with the WCW fanbase. In fact, you could argue that Inferno was one of WCW’s greatest homegrown star success stories. Despite this, WCW briefly let him go during the summer of 1997. At the time, nobody really knew why. Some years later, it was revealed that Disco had refused to participate in an intergender match that would have seen him lose to Jacqueline. Disco, however, tells a different story. According to him, he refused to participate in the angle because it would have involved him beating up Jacqueline for most of the match. He didn’t want to participate in a match that was basically booked to be domestic abuse. Disco also asserts that WCW planned to fire him regardless of whether he went through with the match or not.
6 Serena Deeb - Not Actually Being Straight Edge
Way back in the good old days of WWE, wrestlers were required to live their gimmicks outside of the ring. While WWE has loosened up on this old policy over the years, there have been a few incidents of wrestlers getting in trouble for not living like their characters. The most notable fairly recent incident of this involves Serena Deeb. Deeb was brought in to participate in CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society angle and, as such, played a character that didn’t partake in drugs or alcohol. Deeb, however, actually did enjoy drinking and was caught drinking on a few occasions outside of the ring.
For some reason, WWE decided that this was one kayfabe break they couldn’t stand and let Deeb go during the middle of the Straight Edge Society’s peak.
5 Wendi Richter - Asked to Be Paid as Much as Male Wrestlers
The next exhibit in the WWE’s mistreatment of female wrestlers over the years is also one of the most fascinating instances of a wrestler being fired in the history of the business. For those who don’t remember, Wendy Richter and Hulk Hogan really led the WWE into its ‘80s rock and roll boom period by virtue of their various television and film appearances. At some point, Richter felt that she should be making more money due to the attention she brought WWE.
It’s not clear how much money she asked for, but it was clear that Vince had no interest in paying a female performer as highly as top-tier male counterparts. So, he decided to have The Fabulous Moolah go to the ring in a mask and forcibly pin Richter to take the title off her. Richter was let go soon after.
4 Juventud Guerrera - Getting Naked and Fighting the Police While High on PCP
For many fans who grew up on WCW, Juventud Guerrera is known for two things. Participating in the early days of the company’s storied cruiserweight division and being one of the most unprofessional wrestlers that has ever lived. There are many stories about Juventud’s escapades getting him fired from one major company or another, but his exit from WCW takes the prize. During WCW’s dying days, the company decided to book a tour through Australia. The tour was actually going pretty well until Guerrera decided to get high on PCP.
Shortly after enjoying said PCP, Guerrera decided to run naked through the hotel the WCW crew was staying at. Shortly into his path of destruction, the police were called in and had to use a liberal amount of pepper spray on the angry Guerrera to calm him down. WCW fired him over the incident pretty much immediately.
3 Jim Ross - Failing to Control a Drunk Ric Flair
If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that Vince McMahon doesn’t actually need much of a reason to fire Jim Ross. “It’s Tuesday” might be a good enough reason. Of all the Jim Ross firings over the years, however, this might just be the most unjustified. See, Ross had actually retired from his on-screen WWE role in order to do more work for the company behind the scenes. Ross was even selected to moderate a panel of wrestlers who were helping to promote WWE 2K14.
Unfortunately, Ric Flair decided to get really drunk shortly before this panel and basically hijacked it so that he could tell a lot of inappropriate jokes and stories. In true WWE fashion, Jim Ross was blamed for this incident and was fired because of it.
2 Dawn Marie - Fired for Getting Pregnant
This one is so awful that we desperately want to believe that the true story has simply never been told. For the time being, we’ll go with the popular version of the event surrounding Dawn Marie’s firing. In 2006, Dawn Marie announced that she was pregnant and was going to have to take some time off. WWE granted her maternity leave and everything seemed to be going well. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Dawn Marie was released. What happened? Well, so far as anyone can tell, Dawn Marie was fired because she was pregnant. Marie sued WWE over the wrongful termination and the case was eventually settled out of court. While it’s highly bizarre that WWE would allow Marie to go on maternity leave if they were just planning on firing her anyway, this remains the most logical conclusion for why she was let go.
1 Earl Hebner - Illegally Selling WWE Merchandise
We’d say that Earl Hebner is arguably the most famous referee that’s ever worked a professional wrestling match, but it’s hard to think of another ref that really even comes close. Hebner rose to fame during the mid-to-late ‘90s when he became involved in a few high-profile angles that made him a household name among WWE fans. He was to refereeing what Jim Ross was to announcing. Of course, that’s before he was fired in 2005 for illegally selling WWE merchandise.
It’s not entirely clear what happened here, but Earl either fraudulently sold knock-off merchandise at shows and out of a store he owned or he stole merchandise from shows and sold them elsewhere. Considering that Hebner was theoretically paid quite well, we’re not entirely sure what he was thinking.