On paper, being a WWE superstar is a dream job that comes with nothing but luxuries. These wrestlers are rich, famous, and get to appear on television in front of millions on a weekly basis. What isn't there to love?
But the WWE hasn't been the place to stay for all wrestlers. Despite piecing together some impressive careers, some superstars couldn't take it anymore and chose to leave the company under bizarre circumstances.
Obviously, it's not shocking if a guy leaves the WWE to explore other career opportunities (like The Rock with Hollywood), or if they get better offers in other companies. But some of the top stars left in shocking fashion.
Here are five INSANE stories of superstars quitting the WWE.
5. Batista: Didn't Like WWE's Direction (Twice)
Despite being limited on both the microphone and in the ring, the WWE made Batista the co-face of their company (alongside John Cena), by having him beat Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 21.
Batista won a total of four World titles and two WWE championships during his reign with WWE. But in the middle of 2010, Batista lost a title match to John Cena and "quit" on Raw the next day. In an interview, The Animal claimed he left simply for not liking the company of the direction—even though he was still one of their top stars.
Batista returned in 2014, and despite being portrayed as a face, he was booed by fans when he won the Royal Rumble over Daniel Bryan. Frustrated with how his return went down, Batista once again quit a few months later because of a disapproval of the company's direction and his pay.
It's not often a top superstar leaves the company twice in a four-year span because of creative differences.
4. Randy Savage: Controversies with McMahons
'Macho Man' Randy Savage was by far the biggest wrestling star in the WWF not named Hulk Hogan. His epic promos, and terrific all-around character made Savage one of the most beloved superstars of his era. May we throw in that feel-good marriage with Miss Elizabeth that every fan admired?
Savage eventually took a step away from the ring, as Vince McMahon wanted to move forward with younger wrestlers. Savage moved to the announce table and longed for a return to wrestling, which McMahon didn't give him. Savage headed over to WCW, with McMahon bidding the Macho Man farewell on a live broadcast.
Further allegations came out that Savage had a relationship with Stephanie McMahon, who was in her teens when he left. Nobody knows the truth to these rumors, only that Savage left the WWE due to disagreements with the man that made him a legend.
3. A.J. Lee: Following Her Husband
AJ Lee—with her charming looks and insanely awesome in-ring skills, was among the most beloved in the women's division. She was named "Woman of the Year" by Pro Wrestling Illustrated in 2012, 2013, and 2014. Lee also won three Divas Championships, building up one impressive resume.
However, Lee's real-life husband, CM Punk, ran into troubles and disagreements with the company backstage (more on that later). Lee also took time off to recover some ongoing neck injuries. She retired in 2015 due to injuries but also ran into issues with Stephanie McMahon, which Lee exposed on Twitter.
For Lee, it was an easy choice to leave the company for her significant other. As for the other half of the story...
2. CM Punk: Walking Out On Company
CM Punk was undoubtedly one of the WWE's top superstars during the PG Era, to say the least. He had the epic microphone skills that made him a top-notch heel, but he also had some incredible all-around ring talent.
With three World Heavyweight Championships and two WWE Championships, Punk was easily one of the company's biggest stars. But just before the Jan. 27 2014 edition of Raw aired, Punk told Vince McMahon he was going home and left.
A series of stories began to unfold. Punk was frustrated about not headlining a WrestleMania event despite being promised one, and that he had to retire for health purposes. Punk was suspended and fired by the company on his wedding day, which was the final straw of a completely messy saga.
1. Bret Hart: The Montreal Screwjob/Leaving for WCW
There's no denying just how much of an impact Bret 'The Hitman' Hart had for the WWF in the '90s. The Calgary native became a Canadian hero and grew the company's popularity in the Great White North, and is even credited for keeping the WWF alive during Vince McMahon's steroid trials. Hart was one of the most gifted all-around superstars and had a tremendous relationship with Vince McMahon, and he agreed to a 20-year contract in 1996.
However, WCW began to win the television wars and McMahon was losing a ton of money. He told Hart that the contract couldn't be fulfilled, and he encouraged the Hitman to take an offer from WCW. Hart reluctantly agreed.
But heading into the 1997 edition of Survivor Series (in Montreal), Hart was to defend his World Heavyweight Championship title against his real-life enemy, Shawn Michaels. The plan was for Hart to go out as a champion in his hometown.
However, McMahon double-crossed Hart, in real life, in the middle of the match. Michaels put Hart in the Sharpshooter, and McMahon forced the ref to ring the bell, despite the Hitman never tapping out.
Hart spat on McMahon and punched him backstage, and left for WCW. 13 years later, he returned to WWE programming and buried the hatchet with both McMahon and HBK. For over a decade, however, the Montreal Screwjob loomed over the heads of Hart, McMahon and the WWE.