The hiring and firing process in the WWE leads to employees coming in and out of the company. Headlines are made any time a top talent leaves the company. The powers that be choosing to get rid of a relevant name gives a huge story to the media, but lower card and backstage personnel are let go all the time. WWE doesn’t have to acknowledge a forgotten performer or an unknown off-screen employee once they are gone. Fans sometimes don’t even realize someone is gone until a long time later. Recent history has shown that with a plethora of names under the radar being let go.
Wrestlers to lack television time typically get fired after a while if they aren’t repackaged. A familiar face disappearing is not a good sign if they don’t resurface with a completely new persona or gimmick. Backstage employees hold no star power on the screen and that makes their jobs even less stable than the on-screen performers. We'll take a look at some of the recent names to meet the unfortunate fate of losing their spot working for the biggest wrestling promotion in the world. These are fifteen WWE employees that you may not have realized were recently released.
The most recent season of Tough Enough saw wrestling hopefuls try to get a job in the WWE. Only two competitors won guaranteed contracts, but the majority of other competitors received developmental deals in the Performance Center. ZZ is someone that showed enough charisma to reach the finals of the Tough Enough contest. His issues were with immaturity and a lack of a work ethic to get into shape.
WWE hoped a stint in the Performance Center could help condition the young man into becoming a professional. ZZ failed to change his bad habits and WWE lost faith in him evolving into a credible wrestler. WWE quietly let him go in 2016, so he could find another field to make a living in. Wrestling wasn’t for ZZ and everyone is better for him leaving the industry.
14 Alex Reyes
NXT is not only home to aspiring WWE wrestlers trying to make it to the main roster, as Broadcasters are also given an opportunity to work up the ranks and land a spot on Raw or SmackDown Live. The commentators, backstage interviewers and hosts all receive chances to show off their talents. Corey Graves, Byron Saxton and Tom Phillips all started in NXT before becoming fixtures on the main roster.
One of the guys to not get by NXT was Alex Reyes. His backstage interviews were the majority of his segments on camera and the WWE released him out of the blue in May of 2016 to end his time with the company. Reyes has claimed WWE valued him and a few other broadcasters less because they were diehard fans before entering the company.
13 Brad Maddox
A lesser known WWE release in recent years saw former highly valued prospect Brad Maddox get fired under controversial circumstances. Maddox was actually an authority figure on Raw and found himself involved in storylines with CM Punk and Ryback. WWE clearly believed his potential could lead to big things down the road at one point in time.
The incident that led to Maddox’s firing was his mistake of breaking a rule made by Vince McMahon. Maddox used the term 'cocky pricks' to incite the crowd, but the term 'prick' is allegedly banned in the WWE. This led to his instant firing, causing him to hit the free agent market. Maddox has remained out of the spotlight making many forget he even existed, let alone was released not too long ago.
Cameron was supposed to be so much more in the WWE, but she lacked the talent to get ahead. WWE placed her on the original cast of Total Divas, showing faith in her ability to draw money for the company one day. Cameron somehow managed to get worse, instead of improving to the level she needed to get to the top. At one point, she forgot the rules of the match and tried to pin an opponent that was laying face first on the mat.
WWE finally cut bait with her when she showed support for Ryback, who made comments speaking out against the company. The rumors state another wrestler was going to be released for WWE’s cuts until Cameron got on WWE’s bad side, making her the one to leave. Cameron is now looking to make her name outside of the wrestling world.
11 Lisa Lee Fox
The name of Lisa Lee Fox is not one that os well known among wrestling fans, but she had a great deal of respect in the WWE. Fox worked for WWE over the course of twenty years in various roles in the higher ups. WWE fired her in 2015 from her position as Executive Vice President of Content. Fox was a writer for the television shows at one point and was an important part of the company.
Reports circulated that Fox’s firing was a result of her failing to secure the rights to the Paul Boesch Houston Wrestling tape library. WWE wants to acquire as much content as possible for the WWE Network and losing out on one to a lesser known party is something that just wasn’t going to fly. They may have reacted strongly by firing an employee who was there for two decades, but Fox was quietly released to end her time in WWE.
10 Joey Styles
The average fan is likely unaware that Joey Styles remained employed with the WWE for many years following his broadcasting career ending. Styles stayed to run the WWE website, leading the staff as the company attempted to gain a footing in the online world. WWE did a good job under Styles’ leadership to develop new outlets to share content and increase revenue.
However, a controversial interview for WWE’s YouTube channel saw Styles get in hot water with the company. Styles plugged his friend Tazz’s radio show and criticized WWE’s booking during the live stream video. WWE responded by quietly firing Styles from his position on the website. Styles’ big mouth found him in more trouble on the independent circuit and he's now working outside of the wrestling business.
9 Billy Gunn
Billy Gunn finally made peace with Triple H and received a great job in the WWE. The company trusted him to help train the young talent in the Performance Center. Gunn was arguably the most successful wrestler of the trainers in the PC. WWE even used him on television at various points for nostalgia purposes, since he was still in great shape.
One bad decision would cause the respected trainer to lose his job. Gunn violated the WWE Wellness Policy for performance enhancing drugs. Many in the WWE were unaware that Gunn competed in powerlifting competitions on his off time. Gunn failing the test is something WWE felt was a bad look for their company and they released him. The star is still competing on the independent circuit hoping to get another chance to return to the WWE as a trainer.
8 Kyle Edwards
Kyle Edwards' WWE career went faster than anyone could have expected. As a diehard wrestling fan, Arda Ocal worked hard to get on WWE’s radar. The Canadian had quite a few projects that allowed him to discuss wrestling with his normal sports broadcasting jobs. WWE finally took note of him and signed him to become the newest member of their broadcasting family.
Under the new name of Kyle Edwards, he struggled to find a role on air. Edwards typically appeared on international shows hosting the content. However, most of us only saw him on the WWE website. Edwards never appeared to be someone WWE had confidence in and they released him less than two years into his deal in April of 2016.
7 Alex Riley
WWE pushed Alex Riley early into his career as the protégé of The Miz, eventually turning against him. Riley started to move forward as a face for a couple of months until his push fell apart. A few horrible performances in the ring and rumored backstage issues with John Cena led to his career going downhill. WWE tried transitioning Riley into a broadcasting role as the color commentator for NXT.
Riley talked the company into letting him wrestle again in feuds against Kevin Owens and Shinsuke Nakamura on NXT television. His in-ring work was still lacking and he wasn’t on the level of his peers. WWE released him with less fanfare or criticism from the fan base. No one really cared and his release was just one of those that were swept under the rug.
6 Devin Taylor
WWE has done a great job helping many talented women in developmental progress into becoming valuable members of the company. The training and the overall philosophy in the Performance Center typically gets the best out of the women wanting to move up the rankings. One that couldn’t deal with the physical grind of the training was Devin Taylor.
Most will remember Taylor for her time backstage interviewing wrestlers about their matches and feuds. Her bit with Dana Brooke patting her head specifically stands out. WWE believed in Taylor’s potential due to her athleticism and look. Unfortunately, she continued to suffer numerous injuries that kept her out. The company decided to let Taylor go considering it looked like she wouldn’t have the physical ability to get through the wear and tear of the wrestling business.
5 Hugo Knox
Hugo Knox was a noteworthy signing of WWE for the Performance Center. The original purpose of the PC was meant to bring in athletes from all backgrounds with the hope of training them the right way leading to success. Knox was a successful goalie in soccer for many years before making the change to join the WWE and become a professional wrestler.
NXT house shows featured Knox wrestling on the majority of the loops to get the experience needed to improve. Unlike Baron Corbin and others to get trained by the WWE, Knox couldn’t progress quickly enough to get a consistent role on television. WWE realized they wouldn’t be able to get what they wanted out of him by September of 2016. Knox was released from his contract and the dreams of wrestling at WrestleMania were over for the former goalie.
4 Mark Yeaton
WWE can be a cold place to work, as longtime employees are unceremoniously fired at times. This was the case when timekeeper Mark Yeaton who received his termination papers in 2014. Yeaton worked in various fields for the WWE, but we mostly know him for sitting ringside for decades and ringing the bell before and after matches. The most entertaining duties of Yeaton’s job saw him throw beers to Steve Austin for celebrations during the Attitude Era.
Yeaton also was responsible for maintaining and ordering the items needed for the ring. All of his duties would no longer see him at the helm. Yeaton’s firing came out of nowhere and shocked many of the other longtime employees. It was meant to showcase that no one was safe from cuts, making Yeaton one of the old hands to get released.
3 Sara Lee
Sara Lee actually won the Tough Enough women’s competition back in 2015. Her lack of talent was obvious during the competition, but the voting fans still cared about her. Sara struggled to keep up athletically with the other women in the contest who had more impressive athletic backgrounds. WWE signed the majority of the talent pool from Tough Enough and they all outshined the winner in the Performance Center.
Lee's inability to improve put her on the rumored chopping block for some time. Sara started dating fellow Performance Center wrestling trainee Wesley Blake. Lee announced she was pregnant with the couple’s first child shortly before getting released by the WWE. The company clearly didn’t see a future for her and her pause in training made it impossible for her to have an in-ring career anytime soon.
2 Rich Brennan
Rich Brennan received rave reviews for his commentary work as a play-by-play man in NXT. The commentary team of Brennan, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton showed great chemistry that added to the show. Brennan worked for smaller main roster shows like Main Event and showed enough potential to become a future asset to Raw or SmackDown Live.
The news was shocking when WWE fired Brennan in May of 2016. Many believed Mauro Ranallo signing with the WWE made Brennan less valuable, as they already had two play-by-play men on the main roster. However, Brennan being removed from the NXT spot was a bit of a shock. Rumors circulated that Tom Phillips’ political standing in the WWE saw the company ditch Brennan to give him a chance to lead the NXT commentary team.
1 The Brooklyn Brawler
A surprising firing that went under the radar saw the WWE let go of a very loyal employee in The Brooklyn Brawler. From working as an enhancement talent to a backstage employee, Brawler worked for WWE over the course of 33 years. Vince McMahon respected his work ethic and loyalty, which landed him the role of a producer that helped wrestlers with video packages and promos.
The shocking release came in May 2016 with no real reason being given. Brawler called into Tazz’s radio show a few days prior without getting approval first, making it likely WWE didn’t appreciate him doing a media appearance without approval. Regardless, the firing of a 33 year employee should have been bigger news, but it was barely reported by the WWE.