Employers sometimes have a list of people they would never want to work with. For whatever reason, the termination or departure might have rubbed management the wrong way. Those former employees are often placed on a blacklist and it can be extremely difficult to get off of that list.
In the world of professional wrestling, the same thing can apply with major wrestling promotions; especially for companies that have television deals. There are only so many spots on an active roster – and a lot fewer spots to be highlighted on television – that there’s no room for whom officials would view as “bad apples.” World Wrestling Entertainment has put wrestlers on this list for a variety of reasons.
Wrestlers, announcers and other on-air talent can lose favor with the WWE for having attitude problems behind the scenes and cause headaches for the creative staff. Maybe they get themselves into legal troubles that make the WWE look bad. As with any employer, a company might try to create distance between them and the person of controversy.
One thing to keep in mind is that the WWE seems to have a motto regarding former superstars – “never say never to a return.” In recent years, we’ve seen bridges mended between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart. We’ve also seen The Ultimate Warrior be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame before passing away. However, there are former superstars who may not get themselves off of the blacklist.
Regardless of the reasons and whether they have replaced those burnt bridges with WWE, the following are the top 15 people who were put on WWE’s blacklist.
15 Teddy Hart
Through most of the 2000s, Teddy Hart was arguably one of the most athletically gifted independent wrestlers available. However, he certainly burned bridges with multiple promoters through the years. On more than one occasion, his attitude got him released from the WWE. A few years after he completed his training, he was working under WWE to train with Dory Funk, Jr., but he was released for his attitude.
He had small stints with WWE developmental from 2006 to 2007, but never stayed long. Considering how great he was in the ring, it was a shame how his demeanor kept him from becoming a potential star in the WWE. Hart would have certainly done well. He has mended relationships with some other companies in recent years, but likely will never have a chance to do so with the WWE.
14 Colt Cabana
Colt Cabana is viewed by many wrestling fans as one of the most entertaining stars of the independent wrestling scene. However, he did have a very brief stint in the WWE from 2007 to 2009 as Scotty Goldman. Unfortunately, it was not a run where he was handled properly through the creative team. During an interview with Sam Roberts, Cabana commented that he was gaining some interest shortly after CM Punk’s infamous “pipe bomb” promo in 2011.
He also had some calls about being a ring announcer in NXT. However, that all seemed to end when Punk decided to leave the WWE in 2014, months before WrestleMania XXX. It was unfortunate because Cabana could have been a good addition to NXT and the WWE Performance Center. Those odds decreased significantly after he brought Punk onto his “Art of Wrestling” podcast to vent about his frustrations with the WWE.
13 Juventud Guerrera
The WWE can only handle a wrestler’s attitude for so long. They were certainly patient when it came to Juventud Guerrera. The former WCW Cruiserweight Champion had some title wins from 2005 to 2006, but his release was a question of “when” and not “if.” In January 2006, Guerrera was involved in a match with Kid Kash for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. When told he was going to lose, he attempted to “sandbag” Kash and wouldn’t cooperate in the ring.
Guerrera also developed a very large ego during his short amount of time in the WWE, claiming that he was the equivalent of The Rock in Mexico; becoming just as big a star in the United States. Vince McMahon once made a seemingly obvious joke about him winning a world title, but Guerrera thought it was serious. One insider commented that Guerrera probably had the thought he was let go because top stars like Triple H were threatened by him.
12 Jeff Jarrett
The WWE likely doesn’t forgive things like extortion. This was the case of Jeff Jarrett who once held the WWE hostage for a previously undisclosed amount of money. Back in 1999, Jarrett was the Intercontinental Champion during a time when his contract was expiring. The WWE apparently realized their error and so did Jarrett. He wanted a lot of money before going along with the WWE’s storyline to have him drop the title to Chyna.
In biographies written by both Chyna and Hardcore Holly, Jarrett ended up with about $300,000. The WWE certainly did not want to have a situation similar to when Madusa (a.k.a Alundra Blayze) appeared on WCW Monday Nitro throwing the WWE Women’s Championship into a trash can. In the years that followed, Jarrett was a world champion in WCW before forming TNA Wrestling and now building up Global Force Wrestling.
11 Chris Benoit
It’s not easy for the WWE to completely erase someone from their history; especially someone who had an emotional World Heavyweight Championship win at WrestleMania XX. But after Chris Benoit killed his wife and son before committing suicide in 2007, the WWE certainly made a decent effort at it. Less than 24 hours after spending an episode of RAW to pay tribute to Benoit and his family, the WWE learned the truth behind their deaths.
Vince McMahon went on TV to announce there would no longer be mentions of Benoit. Even with the emergence of the WWE Network, fans have found disclaimers before any matches showing Benoit. It’s a shame to see someone’s legacy receive such a large black mark. Maybe the WWE could have helped Benoit if anyone knew of his depression or intervened to prevent the deaths. Benoit would have otherwise been a surefire member of the WWE Hall of Fame.
10 Madusa/Alundra Blayze
During the Monday Night War, a number of wrestlers jumped enemy lines between the WWE and WCW. However, the WWE never held a grudge with someone like Scott Hall of Kevin Nash for two decades. That was the unfortunate punishment handed down to Medusa, who appeared on WCW television in 1995 with the WWE Women’s Championship before throwing the title in the trash. It was something that no other wrestler had done during this time in wrestling history.
For about 20 years, the WWE rarely mentioned the former Alundra Blayze. It seemed as if the WWE was not able to easily forgive her for leaving the WWE and throwing their Women’s Championship in the trash on WCW television. However, it seems some truce was found as she would be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015.
9 CM Punk
It’s not often a wrestler would leave the WWE very close to their biggest show of the year. CM Punk was the rare exception in 2014 when he decided to go home weeks before he was planned to face Triple H at WrestleMania XXX. Months later, Punk would go on the record with on Colt Cabana’s “Art of Wrestling” podcast about his issues from working with the WWE. His dissatisfaction with WWE stemmed around many things from not being in a WrestleMania main event to having to work through multiple injuries.
The WWE spent most of 2014 quietly keeping their distance from CM Punk. It started with unfollowing him on Twitter and then changing the storyline and removing any mentions of Punk on WWE television. The WWE also had to rewrite the script for the WWE Studios’ Flintstones movie planned for 2016. The likelihood of CM Punk returning to WWE seems extremely unlikely. It’s not 100 percent impossible, but somewhere around the 99 percent mark.
During the height of popularity for D-Generation X in the Attitude Era, Chyna was the muscular amazon who stood with Triple H and the rest of his gang. The two actually had an off-screen relationship. But it came to an end, along with her WWE career. Behind the scenes, Triple H was having a relationship with Stephanie McMahon. Chyna would confront the boss’s daughter about the situation. Shortly after, she was let go from the WWE. Chyna would go into film, but mostly in the adult entertainment genre. She was never able to make her WWE return.
One could argue it was due to the tension that could come from running into Triple H and Stephanie McMahon again. But she also had her personal struggles with drugs, alcohol and other substances. With the WWE trying to keep PG-friendly, it was understandable to be cautious working with her. Fans were saddened at her sudden passing last April. They were frustrated (and still are) that she was never inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame when she was alive.
7 Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar was once an unstoppable force in the WWE from his 2002 debut until he departed from the company after WrestleMania XX in 2004. The only man who won an NCAA heavyweight championship and the WWE Championship was rumored to be leaving the WWE in an effort to pursue a career in the National Football League. He would be cut by the Minnesota Vikings, but it didn’t take long before he made the jump to work for New Japan Pro Wrestling.
In the meantime, the WWE would make an effort to get fans to forget about Lesnar. This included having his record as the youngest world champion in WWE history to be snapped by a 24-year-old Randy Orton at SummerSlam 2004. He was also involved in a lawsuit with the WWE in regards to them preventing him to work for other wrestling promotions after his early release from the WWE. It took a while, but the WWE was able to bring Lesnar back in 2012. Since then, he’s brought more attention to WWE thanks to his stint in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
6 Kurt Angle
Obviously, the WWE is no longer putting Kurt Angle on their blacklist. The 1996 Olympic gold medalist who has won multiple world championships in WWE will be one of the newest additions to the WWE Hall of Fame during WrestleMania 33 weekend. However, Angle spent more than 10 years away from the WWE with no signs of any return being possible. It all started when Angle wanted to leave the WWE because of the work schedule and his injuries piling up.
According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer, Vince McMahon did not want to re-sign Angle because of his past addictions to painkillers and having issues with health. Angle has also dealt with substance abuse problems. McMahon has already dealt with a number of wrestlers dying young while with the WWE and didn’t want Angle to be another statistic while under a WWE contract.
5 Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka
Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka was an inspiration to many professional wrestlers for his leap from the top of the steel cage in 1983. However, some of Snuka’s past was beginning to haunt him in late 2015. A cold case was reopened and was investigating Snuka possibly murdering his girlfriend Nancy Argentino in 1983. He was never charged, but his story changed from the original records and his autobiography.
When the news started to spread, the WWE made an effort to distance themselves from Superfly. The WWE removed Snuka from the Hall of Fame section of WWE.com. The only other person who was removed from the website in similar fashion was Hulk Hogan (more on him later). Not long after the case against him was dropped, his health declined from a combination of dementia and cancer – passing away last month at 73.
4 Jim Ross
Many fans weren’t happy to hear the WWE was releasing long-time play-by-play commentator Jim Ross shortly after SummerSlam 2013. Ross was supposed to be the head of a symposium involving the newest WWE video game; one which Ric Flair participated in after possibly having one too many to drink. Despite the WWE trying to spin his departure as a retirement, Ross has since told the public that he was fired in regards to the incident.
McMahon apparently tried not to say too much about the incident on Steve Austin’s 2014 podcast. While Ross is certainly not being removed from WWE.com or being censored through the archives found on the WWE Network, it doesn’t look extremely likely that the WWE is going to bring the voice of the Attitude Era back to the broadcast table for any more WWE events.
3 “Macho Man” Randy Savage
It’s hard to imagine that the WWE would want to distance themselves from one of the more iconic men to step foot in their universe. He wasn’t Hulk Hogan or the Ultimate Warrior. But “Macho Man” Randy Savage was just as much a part of pop culture with his trademark gravelly voice. But in 1994, his contract was about to expire and he was kept at the commentary table. Savage would make the decision to go to WCW because he wasn’t quite ready to hang up the boots.
This seeming upset McMahon, who views handshake agreements to be just as binding as one with a signature on the dotted line. This led to Savage never being involved with WWE until 2010; when his first action figure in more than a decade was announced. But he never made a WWE return as he passed away from a heart attack in 2011. The Macho Man was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015.
2 The Ultimate Warrior
The weekend of WrestleMania XXX saw The Ultimate Warrior inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, appear on stage at WrestleMania and speak to the fans at the RAW after the big event. Not long after, he passed away due to natural causes linked to heart disease. He was able to mend the bridge with the WWE, which seemed almost impossible considering the legal wars he waged with Vince McMahon and the WWE.
Problems continued as Warrior wanted as much money as Hulk Hogan in 1992, which was also an issue in 1996. Both times, he filed a lawsuit against the WWE. Things were said between both sides and Warrior left the company in 1996. After a very brief stint in WCW, Warrior was rarely seen by wrestling fans; except to take shots online against the likes of the WWE and Hogan himself.
1 Hulk Hogan
When Hulk Hogan’s sex tape came out in 2015, he was criticized for a racial slur that he used regarding an African American male who was dating his daughter, Brooke. Obviously, Hogan received backlash from wrestling fans and writers, along with mainstream media. The WWE, who has been spending recent years converting to a TV-PG rating, decided to distance themselves from Hogan.
This included releasing him from his legends contract with the company. But they also removed Hogan’s profile from the alumni section of WWE.com and was removed from being a judge on Tough Enough. Hogan would win a lawsuit against Gawker Media for the release of the tape. But after some time, the WWE might be looking to bring Hogan back, at least through a legends contract.