No one likes getting fired, but it's happened to a lot of us. And it feels a little better to see that it can happen to the best. These superstars have all gotten pink slips from the WWE at some point over the years. Some might have already returned and some still might come back in the future. People get fired from WWE for behavior violations, wellness violations, to cut costs, and sometimes when creative just doesn't have anything for them. Sometimes it's for combinations of all of the above.
Also, this list is restricted to only legitimate firings. Vince McMahon made an awesome catchphrase in the 90s out of his throaty "YOU'RE FIRED!" and The Authority to this day has done angles where people get fired and return a few weeks later. Retirement matches also don't count, especially when the wrestler in question stays around as an alumni. There could be an entire separate ranking of the best on-camera firings, but this list is more about the guys that just quietly disappear.
The WWE has made the weeks after WrestleMania a sort of "firing season," hiding groups of cuts in the afterglow of the biggest and most successful show of the year. These mass cuts haven't been as ubiquitous in the past few years, but the locker room's got to be just a little on edge about being "future endeavor"ed. Last year, the group of cuts came in early June and totaled 11 WWE on-air personalities, from Teddy Long to a referee. Even JTG, a 7-year WWE veteran, and frequent subject of people saying "he's still employed?" wasn't immune. It remains to be seen who will be let go this year and if they could end up on a future version of this list. For now, these are the best WWE superstars to get fired.
15 Mike Knox
14 Drew McIntyre
13 Shelton Benjamin
Shelton Benjamin set the WWE on fire as part of Team Angle, having constant Match of the Year candidates with partner Charlie Haas for the Tag Titles. Even after splitting solo, Benjamin was a walking highlight reel in Royal Rumble and Money in the Bank matches.
Carlito had a short, but promising career in WWE in the mid-2000s. He was cutting great promos and had a great heel gimmick that reminded many people of Rowdy Roddy Piper. His early success and wrestling family background made some compare him to The Rock.
11 Mr. Kennedy
Also known as Montel Vontavious Porter, this was another charismatic superstar that couldn't break through the glass ceiling despite his talent. MVP had a great gimmick as a pro-football styled free agent and plenty of momentum as a long-running United States Champion.
9 Daniel Bryan
The leader of the YES movement came very close to having his career cut short before he would ever main event WrestleMania or win a world title. Bryan was actually released as a 2010 NXT Rookie after he choked out Justin Roberts with a tie on TV. This was too much violence for several of the WWE's family-friendly sponsors.
8 Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy made his name in the WWE as one of the stars of the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs matches for the tag titles during the Attitude Era. Sadly, all of those high falls and swanton bombs had a price, and that price would be a crippling drug addiction that's followed Jeff for over a decade.
7 Curt Hennig
Mr. Perfect was the centerpiece and scapegoat of the infamous 2002 Plane Ride from Hell. The parts that got Hennig fired included a drunken verbal and physical attack on Brock Lesnar about his amateur wrestling credentials. The two would rumble on the plane, almost hitting an emergency door in the process.
6 Jeff Jarrett
When WWE bought WCW in 2001, there was a period of endless possibility when all of WCW's wrestlers were now WWE's wrestlers. Except for one. Vince McMahon very publicly fired Jeff Jarrett, then one of WCW's biggest stars, as retribution for him almost leaving as Intercontinental Champion years earlier.
5 Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio was fired in August of 2014 for striking an employee backstage. In his words: "I got fired because I stand up for myself against a (expletive) racist (expletive)." This incident brought to light an ugly undercurrent of racism in the WWE, as Del Rio's manager/ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez had been let go by the WWE earlier. He had also spoken out about the uncomfortable working environment.
4 Scott Hall
Before his Hall of Fame induction in 2014, Scott Hall's reunion with the WWE was almost cut short in 2002. Hall was another casualty of the "Plane Ride From Hell" that got Curt Hennig fired. Ironically, he wasn't awake or acting up through most of the flight. But it was an easy time to release him for his general poor ring shape and personal issues surrounding a child custody dispute.
3 Jim Ross
Good Ol' JR left the WWE in 2013 officially as a retirement, but it didn't take long for word to emerge that JR was fired for not sufficiently controlling Ric Flair's mouth at a public event. It's shocking enough that WWE would treat one of its best announcers of all time this way, but even worse that they tried to call it a "retirement."
2 CM Punk
Punk and the WWE's parting in 2014 had several twists and turns, until the truth came out in a podcast in November - the WWE fired Punk on his wedding day. That was only the tip of the iceberg and this article isn't "Top Screwed Up Things the WWE did to CM Punk" (but we could make that another article).
1 Kurt Angle
The release of the Olympic Gold Medalist in 2006 was deemed by both parties as "mutual," but it was apparent that the WWE was cutting ties with Kurt Angle until he was able to recharge his body and address an addiction to painkillers. Mr. McMahon addressed the release on WWE.com: "Kurt has some issues he has to face, as we all do from time to time. We all have our demons, and as human beings, it is important for us to overcome them and become better human beings, athletes and business people."
Angle was a force to be reckoned with in the WWE from his debut in 1999. He won every title, becoming a Grand Slam champion by 2002. He would be a surefire WWE Hall of Famer if not for his demons and abrupt WWE exit.
Also hurting Angle's WWE future - after the "mutual" release that WWE thought would help him take some time off and heal his body, Angle would go on to be a main event player in rival TNA. He's won six World Titles there to match his six World Titles in the WWE, and has been inducted into the TNA Hall of Fame.
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