No one is safe when it comes to the WWE. Wrestlers and employees get fired for all manner of reasons and in all kinds of ways. Wrestling is a dangerous sport and some firings are usually warranted if for example a wrestler proves to be a danger to his fellow professionals and/or themselves. This is usually the case when it comes to things like substance abuse as it isn’t safe to put someone in the ring with an opponent who isn’t in his right mind.
On the other hand, some firings tend to raise more than a few eyebrows especially if the wrestler involved happened to be particularly good at their craft. This has led to the exit of a number of talented wrestlers which has negatively transformed the wrestling landscape over the years. Wrestling is also a business and at times the WWE is forced to part ways with their employees in order to cut costs or to please important sponsors in order to stay on good terms with them.
The WWE has also come up with different ways to get rid of their talent. You’re either fired in public, privately followed by them releasing a statement, or they just give a false reason as to why someone was released. Among all these firings, some are bound to be remembered more than others. The wrestlers on this list are there because of how they were fired, why they were fired, their standing in the WWE and the reaction generated from the incidents they were involved in. Here are 15 WWE firings that came with a dose of drama.
15 Kevin Wacholz
Wacholz joined the WWE in 1992, assuming the persona of an ex-convict known as Nailz. He seemed to want to live his gimmick following his actions later that year. Dissatisfied with the pay he had received for his match with Virgil at SummerSlam, he decided to express his feelings by having a rematch between him and the boss. Following a heated argument, Wacholz and Vince McMahon had to be separated by employees after he was caught with his hands around McMahon’s throat. He of course lost his job after the incident and later went on to testify against McMahon in the infamous steroid case. He retired in 2000.
14 Dawn Marie
Dawn Marie is perhaps best remembered for her romantic angle with Torrie Wilson and Al Wilson. In 2005, she was released from her WWE contract after it was revealed that she was pregnant. She ended up suing the WWE for wrongful termination, claiming to have suffered mental duress due to the release. She also claimed to have previously been promised that her job was safe. The case was reportedly settled in 2007.
13 Earl Hebner
Earl Hebner is a referee who is well known for officiating most main events during his time with the WWE and screwing Bret Hart over at the 1997 Survivor Series. In 2005, after nearly two decades of service, he was fired along with his twin brother for selling WWE merchandise without permission. This allegedly took place at a store that he co-owned and his share in the store eventually had to be bought out due to the incident. He wasn’t out of work for too long for he joined TNA seven months later.
12 Alberto Del Rio
Del Rio was fired from the WWE in 2014 due to unprofessional conduct. This was as a result of a backstage altercation which saw Del Rio slap a WWE employee who allegedly cracked a joke that was deemed to be racist, then refused to apologise for it after Del Rio confronted him. The WWE then called Del Rio out on Twitter, saying he was the only one to blame for the way things turned out. He went on to wrestle for AAA before returning to WWE.
11 David Schultz
Back in 1984 John Stossel, a reporter said he thought wrestling was fake during an interview with Schultz. The response he got was as real as it gets. Schultz proceeded to hit him in the head twice each time asking Stossel whether he thought it was fake. The incident was aired on national television and Stossel ended up suing the WWE, claiming to have suffered from pain and buzzing in his ears weeks after the assault. Schultz later claimed that WWE officials told him to hit the reporter. He got fired but rumor has it that it was actually because he challenged Mr. T to a fight backstage rather than for the assault.
10 Muhammad Hassan
Bad timing was Muhammad Hassan’s undoing. The SmackDown episode taped on July 4 2005 saw The Undertaker get a beating from Hassan’s men. The perpetrators covered their faces with ski-masks, had on black shirts and camo pants and were armed with weapons which they used to beat and choke out The Undertaker. The London bombings took place three days later and the footage aired unedited in the US and Canada. This led to strong criticism from the media and UPN (the network which aired the episode in the US) pressured the WWE to get rid of the Muhammad Hassan character. This led to Hassan being released from the WWE in September and retiring from professional wrestling.
9 Jeff Jarrett
Double J kept going back and forth between WWE and WCW and at one point almost went to WCW as Intercontinental Champion after his WWE contract expired a day before his title defense match against Chyna. He then allegedly extorted money from Vince McMahon in order to wrestle without a contract and went on to lose the title to Chyna. McMahon clearly wasn’t pleased with him after the incident for when WWE purchased WCW, he fired Jarrett on air. Jarrett then teamed up with his father to form TNA which has been quite welcoming to former WWE wrestlers.
Serena was part of the Straight Edge Society which was anti drugs, smoking and drinking. The group consisted of her, Luke Gallows, Joey Mercury and CM Punk who was the leader. They called out people who didn’t follow their lifestyle and new members were required to shave their heads. However, CM Punk was the only one who followed their lifestyle in real life. Serena was eventually released from her contract for not practicing the straight edge lifestyle off-screen. So much for chopping off your hair.
After failing a test which would have seen him become a permanent member of The Legacy, Manu was kicked out of the group. He was then released from his contract shortly after. Randy Orton, who was part of The Legacy claimed that Manu was booted out because he was disrespectful backstage. It has also been claimed that Orton is the one who pushed for Manu to be kicked out of the group and that the WWE chose to release him as they didn’t know what else to do with his character. If this is true, then Manu is just another victim of Orton’s sense of entitlement.
6 Daniel Bryan
In 2010 Bryan was fired after he choked announcer Justin Roberts with his own tie. His actions reportedly didn’t go down well with one of WWE’s sponsors who thought the incident wasn’t appropriate for WWE’s PG format. Bryan received a lot of support from both fans and fellow wrestlers, which seemed to work in his favor for he was back a few months later. He announced his retirement from professional wrestling earlier this year due to concussion issues.
5 Jim Ross
In 2013, the WWE announced that Jim Ross was retiring to focus on his personal and business endeavours. Ross had recently acted as the moderator for a roundtable discussion including past and present wrestlers at the WWE 2k14 symposium and was helpless as a drunk Ric Flair went on a rant about his son’s death and John Cena’s drinking habits. It later came to light that he was fired for failing to control Ric Flair and wasn’t even planning to retire. Being the best commentator in the business clearly means nothing to the WWE.
4 Curt Hennig
The 2002 Plane Ride from Hell had enough drama to earn itself an induction into the Hall of Infamy. One of the incidents involved Hennig, also known as Mr. Perfect, drunkenly teasing Brock Lesnar about who was the better amateur wrestler. They then decided to prove who was better by having a wrestling match on the plane. This went on for a while and the two were eventually separated after a near collision with one of the plane doors. Mr. Perfect proved to be the perfect scapegoat as he was released shortly after while Lesnar kept his job. He died the next year due to cocaine intoxication.
3 CM Punk
In 2014, fans were stunned when CM Punk walked out on the WWE. However, the real shocker came when he revealed that he was fired on the day of his wedding to former diva AJ Lee. He then went on to slam WWE’s health and wellness policy, claiming that part of the reason he left was due to him being booked for matches while his real-life health problems were ignored. Despite being one of the top wrestlers during his time in the WWE, he has vehemently stated that he will never go back to the company. He is currently signed to the UFC but hasn’t made his debut yet due to injury.
Chyna claimed that her WWE career went south after she found out about the affair between Triple H, her then boyfriend and Stephanie McMahon. She then had a meeting with Vince and Stephanie McMahon, where Vince told her to take some time off in order to deal with the situation. She instead received a fax from the WWE telling her that she was no longer needed. Her recent death has left her fans heartbroken as they feel she should have been treated better by the WWE and is deserving of a place in the Hall of Fame.
1 Hulk Hogan
Hogan was fired from WWE after he was revealed to have made racist comments in a recording from his previously leaked tapes. His profile page was removed from WWE’s website and his merchandise is no longer available on the company’s online store. Hogan apologized for his comments and claimed that he isn’t racist. It remains to be seen whether the WWE will change its stance on one of their most famous wrestlers.
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