We don't know if it's a sore spot between Vince and President Trump with the latter stealing his catchphrase, but one thing we do know is that it hasn't affected Vince's love of firing. "You're Fired" may be Vince's favorite thing to say besides "Hey pal, I'll owe you one", and over the years he's gotten to fire superstars ranging from CM Punk on his wedding day to James Ellsworth from his dream year in WWE. He's fired Jim Ross countless times despite Michael Cole having no business filling his shoes, and he's almost fired superstars like Titus O'Neil for grabbing his arm when he wasn't in the mood. Vince is a complex and unpredictable individual who can fire you over a sneeze or bury you because he woke up funny. The point is, in WWE you are a bad day away from being canned unless you have some other circumstances working in your favor.
His son-in-law Triple H is no slouch in this department either, having critical opinions on certain superstars ranging from some who barely made a blip on the wrestling radar to some who've gone on to become household names. In both cases, his opinion and influence has helped or hindered them, and sometimes has led to direct firings based on his word. Former superstars like Mr. Kennedy and almost the entire Spirit Squad are among the casualties of Triple H and his philosophies on wrestling.
Between these two they have the power to end dreams and careers and this list examines those superstars who, to paraphrase former WWE superstar JTG, "shouldn't pick up the phone', when WWE headquarters comes calling.
Considering the way they've been treated, it seems obvious that Vince McMahon sees the Cruiserweight Division as a sinkhole that is not delivering the way that the original tournament promised. Despite being able to cherry pick from most of the roster who competed in that scintillating tournament, the division has been struck by defections, injuries, arrests, and a stifling version of the matches they were allowed to put on in the CWC. Now, Enzo Amore is leading the division as champion, which aside from his great heel turn has firmly replaced the expected high standard of in-ring action with quirky WWE storytelling. Vince clearly doesn't know what the division can be and if he could cut the lot of them without endless backlash he would.
Triple H has been known to jealously disregard athletes who can do things he isn't capable of, and Dolph Ziggler falls into that category. Dolph makes things harder on himself beyond that though, refusing to take his foot off the peddle with his high-velocity selling, giving Triple H room to criticize and devalue Ziggler's in-ring acumen as lacking nuance and psychology. Triple H also was responsible for plummeting Dolph back down to developmental once before when he was Nicky in The Spirit Squad, so it's clear Triple H has no fondness for the guy. For someone so clearly in the same league and from the same mold as Triple H's favorite, Randy Orton, the only explanation is a personality conflict between the two and it stands to reason that if you can't be made to think like Triple H, he wants you gone.
Family connections are keeping this third generation wrestler from being cut entirely from WWE, with Dallas' lineage and relationship to WWE mainstay Bray Wyatt locking him in despite having several key factors Vince hates. His body looks soft which Vince notoriously despises, and his weak, high voice ensures Vince won't see him as a legitimate threat or viable babyface anytime soon. Bo's talent for oblivious heeldom is far too nuanced for Vince to either realize or think the fans can understand so he hasn't used Bo effectively since he graduated NXT, and that looks to continue. Bo is going to either need a complete overhaul or to finally join his brother in some sort of Wyatt shenanigans for Vince to possibly pay attention, but until then he's just filling a spot since Vince can't let him go without stirring trouble where it isn't needed. The clock is ticking down.
The definition of a Vince favorite, Triple H no doubt sees R-Truth as a straggler who coasts on his friendship with Vince McMahon and as someone with no ambition to progress further up the card. R-Truth is clearly happy collecting paychecks and existing to put others over, if he even appears on WWE programming at all, and that is antithetical to Triple H's mantra that you see from the graduates of the Performance Center he pioneered. R-Truth is currently out injured but thanks to his personal friendship with the chairman is somehow safe on the roster despite doing nothing noteworthy outside of a brief run in 2011 where he had an imaginary child berating him, and surely that isn't enough reason to keep someone around. Triple H would love to free this roster spot up for one of his NXT projects to further his claims towards controlling the business.
A case where two guys who could be so much more than what they are currently being used as, and in Anderson's case someone who could be a top contender in singles action. Vince is having none of that though, only seemingly keeping the pair on the payroll to deny them to NJPW and to preserve the goodwill of both Finn Balor and AJ Styles. Their past relationship in NJPW makes marginalizing the tag team nearly impossible without hurting those two top stars so Vince is sitting on this decision until he either requires leverage or just has had his fill. He's used Luke Gallows so badly so many times it's a wonder how the big man can take his career in WWE seriously, however as of now they are rarely on Raw and are most definitely a potential casualty in the near future.
Perhaps the biggest flop to come out of NXT since Apollo Crews, Dana Brooke has rewarded the initially high expectations of her by delivering next to nothing either in-ring or out of it. The few months when she was Emma's muscle aside, Dana has been a source of unintentional comedy at the best of times, or the brunt of scathing ridicule the rest of the time. Her in-ring skills drag down the girls Triple H has carefully been scaffolding to greater heights and her outdated ditzy personality only furthers her resemblance to the worst of the 'Diva' label. Now without even Emma to hide her behind, and being paired with the often neglected Gallows & Anderson, Triple H will be looking to cull her as soon as the Rumble is passed and they no longer need every warm body for that match.
Zack Ryder secured his place in WWE by virtue of his gargantuan effort to get over without a sliver of television time in 2011. Now, Vince would like nothing more than to leave him in the dust but doing so would make him the ultimate martyr and cautionary story about hard work not paying off in WWE. Vince is wise to keep him around despite clearly having no plans to ever reward the efforts of the Long Island Iced Z. Now Zack is just fodder for Vince's midcard heels, being fed to The Miz right after winning the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania and then used as Mojo Rawley's stepping stone into a singles heel. Despite moving merch and constantly getting at least a solid reaction, Zack remains on Vince's hit list and perhaps it's only a matter of time.
There are stories of wrestlers personally requesting Jim Ross over Michael Cole for their matches due to the immense talent gap between him and other commentators. Matches such as the Roman Reigns vs Undertaker main event from this past WrestleMania and the 'End Of An Era' Hell In A Cell match between Triple H and (again) The Undertaker. One thing is for sure, Triple H knows that if WWE is going to flourish under his regime he needs to alter the voice of WWE. He has Mauro Ranallo doing a great job down in NXT, where he had to stash him after the JBL bullying episode, and it seems obvious that when the time comes, Michael Cole's job is done for.
Triple H sees the sports aspect of wrestling as far more critical than the 'entertainment' side Vince favors, so as soon as he can, this change will come into effect at the cost of Cole's job, and it's looking to be right about closing time.
Sometimes Vince just doesn't get a talent's appeal. He can stare at them all day and no matter the packaging he will only see the negative aspects, and that might as well be a death knell for their WWE career. Bayley is clearly suffering from this since being promoted from NXT where her unique appeal was harnessed and capitalized on. Now she is hardly featured prominently at all, just another face among the many women on Raw, pushed further and further into the background without even her underdog story to work with since she already, anticlimactically won the Raw Women's Championship when it made no sense. If Bayley starts coming to the ring without her inflatable tube dudes that will be the sign that Vince has had enough putting faith in the likeable hugger and is cutting costs before cutting her.
A little residual animosity from her uncle Bret's stinging comments over the years regarding Triple H has no doubt left a bitter tang to the relationship between Natty and The Game. Natalya may be very capable in the ring, and she gave a few of Triple H's favorite females good matches over the years but her acting and psychology are stuck at a level that has to infuriate the King Of Kings. Her personality and charisma are in the negative numbers and her recent promotional notoriety came about purely because of a coinciding Total Divas storyline. When Triple H's girls are taking a backseat to the sideshow spin-off that is either of the WWE shows on E! Triple H is going to start looking for his sledgehammer to fix the problem. If she wasn't a Hart he'd have had her head a long time ago.
Oh, if he could you know he would. Vince has the same constant animosity for Heyman as he reserves for those who constantly disagree with him, except magnify that by Paul being right a lot more. Now Paul Heyman is locked into WWE via his association with The Beast Brock Lesnar as the untouchable mouthpiece and premier mic-worker, and Vince can't fire him until all that is over. Heyman refuses to be anything less than excellent every time he goes out there, probably only furthering Vince's conflicting feelings about the former ECW owner. One thing is certain though, and that is if Paul gives him a reason or Brock fails to re-sign after this current contract, Vince will again send Paul away. The last thing he wants is more 'Paul Heyman guys and girls' picking up his defiant attitude.
This one we're giving to Triple H as an act of selflessness. If there's been a more cursed and set back superstar to come through NXT we haven't seen them and the former KENTA deserves a chance to sort himself out away from the grinding WWE environment. Hideo has suffered massive injuries and continual problems adapting his hard-striking style to WWE, and now that he's been promoted only to be slotted into the floundering Cruiserweight division his prospects look worse than ever before. Itami's chances of mainstream success, surely the reason he was such a flaunted signing a few years ago, are close to zero, and now with rumors his signature finisher is being taken away due to injuring Brian Kendrick, Hideo must surely be wondering why he's been so set upon by the fates during this run. It wouldn't surprise us if Triple H saw the chance to give Itami a way out as a favor.
Vince McMahon would sooner have James Ellsworth come back and win the WWE Championship than Luke Harper's grubby, bearded face representing his company. Outside of Mick Foley as Mankind, there have been precious few superstars with that certain disheveled look to become World Champions and despite Luke Harper showing time and time again that as a single's wrestler he can get it done and bring people onto his side, he can't get close due to Vince. This was made abundantly clear earlier this year when it made all the sense in the world to slide Luke Harper into the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania and yet he didn't even appear on the main show. Between the ever-present threat of another Wyatt reunion and little else, Vince's trigger finger is likely getting itchy over Harper.
The other side of this equation is Triple H's burden, looking at his most under-utilized NXT graduate next to one of Vince's lumbering presences and finding no way to get him out from under that association. If Triple H could concoct a way to cut Rowan from the roster he'd have one giant roadblock for Harper gone, but as stated previously Vince sees nothing in Harper beyond truckstop-hillbilly bruiser and so Rowan is a necessary ingredient to keeping Harper at least simmering and on television. Their recent repackaging as The Bludgeon Brothers is showing some small signs of promise, particularly with the Fashion Police and Ascension getting involved, but it's a delicate balance. If they don't soon move on to challenging for the tag titles on Smackdown Rowan will be in The Game's crosshairs.
He's admitted as much over and over again, and that is that what we see in the Swiss Cyborg does nothing for him. Vince McMahon looks at Cesaro as little more than a plain, flavorless entity to throw into tag teams just to keep him out of the way. Cesaro hasn't even gotten the token world championship reigns of similarly disregarded stars like Dolph Ziggler. If Vince McMahon thought he could do away with Cesaro without either helping another company or pissing off Sheamus he'd be handing him his pink slip tomorrow and forgetting about him within hours of that. Cesaro is criminally underrated by only one man on the planet, and unfortunately, it's the one who would sooner fire him than hand him the ball to run with.