WWE Superstars leave the company all the time. Some manage to exit under the radar and the only evidence that they have been released from the company is the WWE.com statement that the company have become famous for.
Others are released in their numbers when WWE decides it’s time to have a clear out of all the misused talent and makes a huge cut in their budget. This has happened many times in the history of WWE and many of the Superstars who didn’t have a chance with the company then moved on to have careers in other wrestling promotions.
But this list is not about these people. This list is about the Superstars that had to drop a Pipe Bomb as they walked through that exit door. The ones who ensured that the fans knew all of their grievances after they had taken their final bow.
After all, what can the company do to them after they’ve left? As long as what they are saying is true then there is nothing that WWE can do to stop them from speaking out about the company they were working for. Obviously, social media has made it much easier for these Superstars to vent their frustrations in front of the WWE Universe, but some of them didn’t even use their social media accounts.
The following are the Superstars who made sure they were remembered by the company and the fans long after their departure by ensuring that their exits were just as big as their debuts.
15. Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar may be one of the biggest Superstars in WWE at the moment but it wasn’t always this way. Lesnar became WWE Champion after a short time in WWE back in 2002 and decided that he wasn’t going to stay with the company any longer after his lackluster WrestleMania XX showdown with Goldberg.
News of his departure meant that a main event match was between two Superstars who were on their way out of the company and the fans decided to heckle the Superstars throughout. Lesnar walked away from the company afterwards and WWE wanted to ensure that he couldn’t wrestle for anyone else. Lesnar obviously sued WWE and then went on to work for NJPW and many other promotions before returning to the company in 2012.
14. Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan used to be the face of wrestling. He was one of the biggest stars in the company and one of the most recognizable characters, but then it went downhill for the former Champion.
Hogan made many WWE appearances including one at WrestleMania 31 but merely months after he inducted his friend ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage into the WWE Hall of Fame, Hogan was released from his WWE contract stating that WWE are “committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds” after a recording of Hogan using racist language was published online. The day before all references of Hogan were taken away from WWE’s official website and all Superstars were told to refrain from mentioning him on WWE TV. (With the exception of The Rock?)
13. Bret Hart
The best there is, the best there was, and the best their ever will be was another Superstar who had reached the heights of WWE leading up to the 1997 Survivor Series Pay-Per-View event.
Of course, at this time WCW was becoming just as big as WWE and were contacting many of WWE’s top Superstars and convincing them to jump ship. Bret Hart was set to be one of these guys. He was leaving WWE following his match with Shawn Michaels. Hart would defend his WWE Championship but didn’t want to drop the gold in Canada and WWE couldn’t force him to do so. WWE were worried that he would take the Championship over to WCW like Madusa had before him so they came up with a plan that saw Michaels put Hart in his own finishing move and the referee rang the bell without Hart actually tapping. Hart was fuming, he spat in Vince McMahon’s face and refused to speak to Michaels or McMahon after this for more than a decade.
12. Randy Savage
‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage had many controversial stories surrounding him and his WWE career. He was one of the Superstars who was once again being headhunted by WCW. Savage promised Vince that he wasn’t going to jump ship like many other wrestlers because WWE was in a lot of trouble with a steroid lawsuit.
Savage obviously went back on his word and made the switch to their rivals and Vince was furious. So much so that he has only recently made the decision to allow Savage into the Hall of Fame, but this could be due to other stories that have been told about Savage and a certain member of the McMahon family (stories that involve the innocence of Stephanie McMahon). Either way, whatever the problem was between Vince and Randy, it was one that was never actually solved.
11. Jeff Hardy
The Charismatic Enigma was one of the most exciting WWE Superstars of the past generation and this reputation came from the fact that Jeff Hardy would perform some of the most death-defying stunts on WWE TV.
With this came problems for Hardy and he developed an addiction to painkilling medication. This would then cause him to fail three WWE Wellness Policy tests and then be fired from the company. Hardy was offered as much help as the company could give him but nothing worked for him and after a career that led him all the way to the WWE Championship, Hardy left the WWE ring for the final time in disgrace. While rumours regarding both Hardy brothers have surfaced, we wonder if WWE would be willing to take chance on Jeff once again?
The Animal was a former WWE Champion, but he left WWE for the first time back in 2010 to pursue an acting career that many thought he was built for. However, it was then announced that he would be making a return to the company in January 2014, in time for the Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View event.
Batista’s run was not a great one and he was forced to turn heel after fans hated him for winning the Royal Rumble. After just a few months with WWE Batista once again walked away after he was told that he wasn’t getting another WWE Championship shot. He walked away from the company and once again vowed not to return. He has since become an acclaimed actor in the latest James Bond outing entitled Spectre.
9. Mickie James
Regardless of the way the WWE Universe views the Women’s Division, Mickie James was an integral part of it for more than six years. Her rivalry with Trish Stratus eclipsed an entire year in WWE before she and Melina took over the Women’s Division a few years later, but it seems this wasn’t enough for WWE to respect the former Women’s Champion.
When Mickie was told to lose weight and she refused WWE then put her into the controversial Piggy James storyline along with Michelle McCool and Layla. This was seen as a storyline that mocked women for being a certain size and was not acceptable on a PG program. Mickie left the company not long after the storyline ended and found solace in TNA.
8. The Ultimate Warrior
The Ultimate Warrior’s legacy will always be remembered by the WWE Universe thanks to the Warrior Award that is now an annual achievement at the WWE Hall of Fame, but back when Warrior was a wrestler, he was not known to have legendary status.
Following WrestleMania VII, Warrior thought that he had been hard done by and that he deserved much more money for his performance, sending a letter to Vince McMahon demanding the money or he refused to perform at SummerSlam. Vince agreed to his demands but following SummerSlam he suspended Warrior stating that he only agreed to his demands so that Warrior was at the SummerSlam Pay-Per-View event. Warrior was not impressed and refused to accept his suspension and instead sensationally quit the company.
7. Matt Hardy
Matt Hardy has had a rollercoaster of a WWE career and shockingly the company now want to sign the former Tag Team Champion once again. This was not the story back in 2005.
Hardy was forced out of action with a knee injury and during his time away from the company Edge and Lita had begun a relationship. Hardy was not happy about this and after causing some problems for both Lita and Edge at WWE events he was fired from the company, for real. Matt and his fans were not impressed by this and called for him to be resigned to the company and given a chance to fight Edge. Matt was subsequently rehired merely weeks later and this turned into one of the best feuds in WWE history.
6. Daniel Bryan
The current General Manager of SmackDown Live almost didn’t have the chance to make an impact in WWE after he was fired from the company following his official debut on the main roster.
Daniel Bryan made his debut along with many other members of The Nexus but when he was helping to destroy everything at ringside, Bryan attacked ring announcer Justin Roberts and pretending to strangle him with his own tie. This was deemed inappropriate on a PG branded show and WWE claimed that they “had sponsors they had to deal with.” Luckily Bryan was rehired and appeared at SummerSlam later that year as a surprise member of team WWE instead of The Miz. Bryan would then work his way up to the top of the card in WWE for a short while.
5. Stone Cold Steve Austin
In the height of controversy, the name Steve Austin is always going to rear its head. The Texas Rattlesnake has been making headlines his entire career, so it’s only fair that he continued to do so following his departure.
When the time came for Austin to be told that he would no longer be the one on top of the company and that WWE were obviously moving in a new direction, he was not impressed. Austin is not the kind of Superstar who takes criticism well and following this discussion with Vince he literally walked out of the building and away from his WWE career. And just like that, he was gone. This would become known as the infamous “Austin took his ball and went home incident.” Austin has since discussed at length his decision to walk out but it remains in bad taste.
4. AJ Lee
When it comes to shocking female wrestler departures, AJ Lee has to be at the top of the list. AJ had just appeared at WrestleMania 32 in a match where she teamed with Paige to defeat The Bella Twins. This was then followed up by a win on Monday Night Raw and then it was announced that AJ had left the company out of nowhere.
Lee was gaining a lot of negativity backstage because of her marriage to CM Punk and she had decided that it was the right time to retire from the company. AJ was the longest reigning Divas Champion and WWE were so annoyed with her departure that they allowed Nikki Bella to break her record. Luckily AJ releases her biography next year which should give the WWE Universe an insight into why she really left the company. In her final match Lee would wear an “I’m A Hugger” t-shirt in support of then NXT Superstar Bayley.
The former Intercontinental Champion was pushed as far as he could go by WWE. From main event feuds with CM Punk to being a Paul Heyman Guy, nothing seemed to suit Ryback during his run in WWE.
Ryback decided to part with the company earlier this year, but not before he revealed all of his problems with the promotion in an Instagram rant while he was still under contract. WWE released Ryback weeks after this but his comments raised a few talking points amongst many of the WWE Universe. It seems Ryback’s main issue with the company was the fact that he wasn’t being paid as much as other wrestlers who were performing in the main event with him. Ryback felt as though he deserved a main event spot and as such voiced his frustrations over his position.
2. Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio has only recently left WWE for the second time. However, it was his first departure from the company back in 2014 that may have been worse than this one. It was reported that Del Rio was released from the company for “unprofessional conduct” after an employee made a racist joke and Del Rio slapped him.
The problem here is the fact that the employee wasn’t apprehended for making a joke of that calibre and when you consider the lengths WWE went to after Hulk Hogan did the same think in a more public setting, it makes you question their policies. The former World Champion was right to walk away after the company showed how little support they had in him. He shockingly returned in 2015 only to depart earlier this year after his year long contract came to an end, and following his first suspension for breaching WWE’s Wellness Policy. Del Rio has also received much heat for his recent romance with WWE Superstar, Paige.
1. CM Punk
There’s not a lot left to say about the now UFC Fighter that fans haven’t said over the past two years, but CM Punk’s sensational departure from WWE following the 2014 Royal Rumble match still leaves a bad taste. It seemed that every member of the WWE Universe wanted to know Punk’s reasons for quitting.
Punk appeared on Colt Cabana’s podcast more than ten months after he left the company and revealed all of his reasons for leaving WWE while also allowing himself to be caught up in a $1 million lawsuit with one of WWE’s doctors. It is almost three years after Punk’s departure and it still stings just like it was yesterday. We have to wonder if Punk will considering a return to the ring when he finally gives up on his Octagon dream.
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