For those that have followed professional wrestling for any single time period, they have undoubtedly heard rumors regarding the "blacklisting", or the complete exclusion of someone, from WWE history. Famous examples include the WWE's removal of any mention of Chris Benoit from WWE programming or the distance the WWE took from The Ultimate Warrior for close to 15 years due to their strained relationship with him. Whether there is truth in all of the "blacklisting" in WWE history will always be questioned, but sometimes it is very evident when WWE is looking to distance themselves from a performer.
At times, there have been performers who have perhaps "earned" this treatment due to their actions in or outside of the ring, but it has not transpired due to one reason or another. Perhaps it is due to their long-time affiliation with the company, or maybe they are just the "boss's favorite". With the precedent WWE has set for certain wrestlers being blackballed from the promotion, it's a little surprising to see that some of these wrestlers are still welcome back into the WWE fold. But in order to make a sound decision, we should take a look at 15 Wrestlers Who Should Be Blacklisted From WWE, But Aren't.
15 Hulk Hogan
Sometimes there are scandals that transcend the world of professional wrestling, which was the case with Hulk Hogan’s unfortunate use of racial slurs during leaked footage in 2015. Thinking about how much that Hogan’s words have hurt others and the perception that it would give off if he remained employed, WWE was quick to distance themselves from who can be considered one of the biggest and most marketable stars of all time. After footage of his actions were released, WWE stated that they are “committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds”, and had therefore terminated Hogan’s contact with them.
Despite all of the negative publicity that resulted from this issue for both Hogan and the WWE, there are reports that WWE officials are still open to an eventual Hulk Hogan return in the future after things have fully blown over. Given how much the use of these racial slurs have insulted so many people that were affected by them, it is surprising that WWE would consider this so quickly and note place Hogan under a permanent banned list.
Dave Batista is a member of one of the last great eras of professional wrestling, achieving his main event status at the same time as both John Cena and Randy Orton, and participating in feuds with Triple H and The Undertaker during his time as a main-event level wrestler. Batista achieved almost every milestone possible during his time in WWE, but left the ring abruptly while on top of his game. Since leaving WWE for the first time in 2013, he did not leave on a very quiet note and was very vocal about how displeased he was with his final months in WWE, specifically about the direction which his character was going in.
Batista did eventually return to WWE before WrestleMania XXX, and was again thrust into a main event program with Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan, and upon leaving this time was very vocal again about his displeasure with how the storyline turned out, eventually stating that he was not interested in returning to WWE for a very long time. Given the way Batista was so open with his irritation regarding how his WWE runs have gone, it is surprising that WWE still continues to hold Batista in such a positive light.
Don’t bite the hand that feeds you – this is a mantra that Goldust did not learn when he jumped ship to WCW during the “Monday Night War” in 1999. While in WWE, Goldust was one of the most controversial characters at the time and garnered a lot of media attention in the role, and as a result was a valued wrestler in the upper-mid card for many years. Despite this, Goldust left the company and debuted in WCW in a ghastly gimmick known as Seven, who also received negative media attention due to the vignettes insinuating that Seven was a child abductor, and the character was quickly dropped prior to his debut. In order to debut Runnels with a bang,
WCW officials decided that he would debut with a worked-shoot style promo where he introduced himself to the audience by saying “For those that don’t know I was Goldust in the WWF, and Goldust sucked.”, and continued to explain his hatred for the gimmick he portrayed for so many years. While it was evident that he was not shooting on WWE directly, it would not have left a positive taste in WWE officials mouths, but they have continued to bring back Goldust many times over the years, including a current run in WWE.
12 Jeff Hardy
Fool you once shame on you, fool me twice shame on you. Despite me being a fan of Jeff Hardy for many years, this is a cliché that has followed him through multiple professional wrestling promotions through his career. Not to speak about it lightly, but Jeff has battled demons with both alcohol and drug abuse through his time in WWE, which have resulted in him being released from WWE on two separate occasions, as well as being suspended multiple times for failing the Wellness Policy. This does not include his time with TNA, which included one the most embarrassing moments in his career at TNA’s Victory Road 2011 event during a World Title match with Sting where he was severely intoxicated during the match, resulting in it being very sloppily cut short.
Despite all of this, Jeff has remained one of the most popular wrestlers in history, which means that WWE has opened their doors for him numerous times, including during his current run. While it seems that Jeff has his demons under control now – which we are all very thankful for – it is surprising that WWE continued to give him multiple opportunities given how many times he let them down.
11 CM Punk
Without being hyperbolic, the biggest story in the last ten years of WWE has been their relationship with CM Punk. If you have made it this far into my article, the odds are that you do not need me to recap the history between them, but to put it simply both sides have wronged each other in a big way to the point of severely damaging the relationship, culminating in CM Punk receiving his termination papers via FedEx on his wedding day and then proceeding to reveal all the details behind his departure on his now infamous Art of Wrestling interview with Colt Cabana. While some consider the podcast to be slandering WWE, Punk made it clear that he just wanted to tell his story, but it ultimately rubbed many in WWE the wrong way.
By coincidence, McMahon was scheduled to appear on The Steve Austin Show shortly after it was released, and had the following to say regarding Punk, “I think there’s a lot of things he may say that he may regret one day, in terms of looking back at it, but nonetheless, I hope that one day, we’ll be able to get back together again.". It is surprising to hear from the WWE Chairman himself that he is open to working with Punk again, but that truly means you can never say never.
10 Kevin Nash & Scott Hall
Widely considered to be the spark that lit the flame which started the Monday Night War between WWE and WCW in the mid-nineties, the popular New World Order faction was created in WCW beginning with Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Before the nWo could begin, there had to be a defection – in the summer of 1996, both Kevin Nash and Scott Hall defected from WWE to WCW and portrayed themselves as The Outsiders who insinuated that they were sent by the WWE to invade and take over WCW. Once the nWo was formed it became the hottest storyline in professional wrestling, which ultimately lead to WCW defeating WWE in a ratings war for close to two years. During many video releases on the subject, it has been made very clear that this ratings war was close to putting WWE out of business at the time, which should not be taken lightly.
Considering that all of the financial issues that WWE experienced during this time period began as a result of Nash and Hall defecting to WCW, it is surprising that WWE has opened their doors back to them so many times. Perhaps it is because they are close friends with a certain someone...
9 Brock Lesnar
I know you’re probably saying to yourself, “But how can the current Universal Champion be on the list of people who should be blacklisted?”, but we need to take into consideration everything that Brock Lesnar has done during his tenure with WWE that could lead to this point. While it is clear that Lesnar is a box office draw for WWE, he has used this fact as leverage to obtain notoriety in his career. Lesnar returned to WWE in 2012 under a part-time schedule - meaning that he worked very limited dates as a “special attraction”. While this has been an adjustment to how WWE business had run previously, it has become a “new norm” for some performers.
Things began to change in 2015 when there were rumblings of Lesnar returning to a career with the UFC, and a press conference with SportsCenter was set up to discuss the matters, where Lesnar revealed that he would be signing with WWE again because he could "work part-time with full-time pay", essentially saying that he was taking advantage of his WWE schedule. This comes off as a big slap in the face to WWE for setting him up this way, but he has continued to enjoy his part-time schedule with WWE, and has remained a special attraction for them since without any repercussions.
Wrestling fans have always heard that if a wrestler burns a bridge in the wrestling business that it is very difficult for them to build it again, especially if things are done which have intense negative repercussions. Such is the case with Madusa, who was known as Alundra Blayze during her time in WWE. Madusa was pushed heavily as the face of the women’s division in WWE (think Charlotte Flair, but in the early nineties), and was pushed heavily as a strong female wrestler. Due to the aforementioned Monday Night War, Madusa was released from her WWE contract due to financial troubles, and she eventually signed with WCW.
While this would not be a relationship-breaking issue, she ended up showing up on WCW television with the WWE Women’s Championship and proceeded to throw it in the trash on live television. While Madusa did show remorse for this for many years, her relationship with WWE became so strained that she did not appear with them for almost 20 years. While she has made amends and is a Hall of Fame member, it is very surprising that WWE removed her from the blacklist considering the disrespect that her actions showed.
7 Iron Sheik
When those who have issues are taken advantage of and made fun of, it is always a sad sight. However, when the person is in on the joke and proceeds to make a mockery of themselves, then it is more socially acceptable to enjoy the fun. Since 2005, The Iron Sheik has become famous (or infamous) for his tirades on social media or in public when attending autograph signings. Sheik focuses most of his outrage towards Hulk Hogan, claiming that he is still owed rematches from feuds from the 1980s and that he despises Hogan for not returning his WWE Championship to him, among various other things that make him angry. If you cross Sheikie, he will “make you humble”, which is not an enjoyable activity for anyone involved. With all of the focus that WWE places on their public image, it is surprising that they still invited him to take part in live broadcasts of RAW as recent as 2011 when he was in the middle of his online outbursts.
6 Zack Sabre Jr.
The most recent trend in the independent scene for wrestlers is that they have been very outspoken in turning down offers from WWE – while this was most certainly not the case in the past. Wrestlers like Zack Sabre Jr. (as well as The Young Bucks and Kota Ibushi among others) have publically turned down offers from WWE in order to remain a free agent on the independent wrestling circuit due to the high demand for them as performers. While it has been made very clear (through cease and desist letters) that WWE is no longer interested in working with The Young Bucks, they have remained very interested in working with the technical-based wrestler Zack Sabre Jr. While competing in the Cruiserweight Classic earlier last year, it was rumored that Sabre Jr. was the favorite to win, but his decision to turn down WWE’s full time offer changed plans, which ultimately meant that he did not compete in WWE’s United Kingdom tournament.
While it is in Sabre Jr’s best interest not to join WWE due to the amount of money he makes as an independent wrestler, it is surprising the WWE still pursued him after he turned them down, as it is not usually part of their character to chase after wrestlers.
Think back to just a few short months ago and remember that Goldberg was recently featured in the main event for WWE as their Universal Champion and feuded with the a previous mention on this list in Brock Lesnar for months, leading up to a match between them at WrestleMania. If I had told you that this would happen years ago, you would have told me that I was crazy because Goldberg has been very outspoken with his dislike towards WWE for the way that his previous run with the company ended up. When prompted on Twitter regarding if a WWE return was ever in the works for him, Goldberg replied on Twitter “if they knew how to do business I'd consider it”. To state so publicly that he does not agree with WWE’s business practices is a very bold statement that would surely have had others banned from appearing with WWE.
4 Jim Cornette
You know that old man down the street that complains about how much noise kids make while their playing outside and generally seems very angry about everything? That is how I picture Jim Cornette, who has infamously developed a tendency to complain about the happenings of the current professional wrestling product via social media. While Cornette has accomplished a tremendous amount of things in professional wrestling, including a total of seventeen wins of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Manager of the Year award, his ramblings about the current state of professional wrestling (including WWE programming) has left a bitter taste in many performers mouths.
Not to mention the fact that he has an affinity for showcasing his political views in an outspoken manner, which has opened him up to public scrutiny in the past. Despite all of this, Cornette has been invited back to WWE numerous times, most recently to induct the Rock n Roll Express into the WWE Hall of Fame.
3 Rich Swann
This is pretty hot off the presses so to speak, as Rich Swann was recently arrested under some very serious charges. Swann was taken into custody, facing charges of kidnapping and battery. The 26-year-old was accused of battering and holding his wife under imprisonment. The WWE came forward and suspended Swann indefinitely, saying they had zero tolerance for domestic violence. Perhaps WWE is waiting for more facts to surface in the case, but if their policy really is zero tolerance, shouldn't Swann be released outright? Considering Emma was released a couple of years ago, albeit briefly, on a very minor shoplifting charge, why hasn't WWE just come forward and outright released Swann? Perhaps it's a matter of time, but this case should result in Swann's banishment from WWE.
2 Cody Rhodes
First of all, let me say this – kudos to Cody Rhodes for achieving happiness in his life outside of WWE. Rhodes should be considered a pioneer for how he has approached professional wrestling for the past two years after leaving WWE after being unhappy with his previous position. There are numerous wrestlers still with WWE who hint at their unhappiness on the roster, but Cody was one of the first to take destiny into his own hands and has been very public about how the independent scene is treating him. Considering Cody’s exposure outside of WWE has included stints with NJPW and ROH, he has been doing very well for himself financially, and has been public about how it is even better for him money-wise outside of WWE.
I am sure that WWE did not appreciate these comments, but they have also been open with the fact that Cody is welcome back in WWE when star(dust)s eventually align.
1 Donald Trump
I get it, he is neither a professional wrestler or an active member of the WWE roster, but he does have a place in the WWE Hall of Fame. To be honest, I am a very proud Canadian citizen and try my best to distance myself from American politics due to the amount of hatred that is entrenched in the process, but since there have been some cross-overs into the world of professional wrestling, it is best that we address it. Without understating the social issues, it is no secret that Donald Trump has made controversial remarks before, after and during his run as President of the United States, and in order not to give him any more publicity I won’t be listing them here.
What I will be discussing is my wonderment as to how WWE has not attempted to distance themselves from Donald Trump by removing him from the Hall of Fame, despite public outcry to remove him.