Wrestling’s a hardcore, cut-throat business, and sometimes, for the main attractions of this business – i.e., the wrestlers – things don’t always work out as planned.
Any wrestler worth his/her soul, when growing up watching their favorite wrestling superstars on the box, would dream about making it big – ruling the roost with the biggest wrestling promotion out there, the WWE. For many of these guys and girls, it’s WWE that represents stardom, and getting a gig with the promotion is their sole objective as they focus on rising through the ranks in the industry. Some achieve their goal and enjoy an awesome time of it. For some, everything they believed life with the biggest promotion would be becomes a reality. Others enjoy a decent amount of success, but some just have a horrid time of it. They soon learn that the wrestling business isn’t always sweet – it’s not all sunshine and roses once you make it with the industry’s top promotion.
Some former WWE professionals left because of disagreements with the management over the way their own careers were panning out and due to numerous other differences with the men that mattered. For some it was about animosity, for others it was just business that caused them to leave or be booted out of the door. For these guys there’s no going back.
Here are 15 wrestlers who burned bridges with WWE, and who we’ll probably never see again wrestling with the world’s biggest wrestling promotion.
15 Shane Douglas
Shane Douglas has had a couple of stints with WWE, both of which have been short-lived. He had a less than happy time of it the first time around, and when he was invited back for a second time in 1995, he just really didn’t want to be there, but nevertheless he signed the contract – perhaps tempted by the riches Vince McMahon could offer. He joined and left that very same year and has since wrestled with various promotions and on the independent circuit – he hasn’t once been tempted to go back to WWE – not that he’s likely to be invited back anyway.
Since he left, he’s been quite vocal in his displeasure about all things WWE, the way the promotion’s managed and Vince at the helm. In 2016, he filed a lawsuit against WWE regarding the risks of incurring injuries that WWE allegedly tried to conceal from wrestlers. No doubt this bridge has been burned for good, and both parties are just fine with that.
Konnan’s wrestled with a ton of different promotions all around the world, but in 1992, he had his first run with WWE. He’s always been very outspoken about what he deems to be racism within the WWE ranks – how the promotion treats Latinos.
Right from the get-go – when he first started appearing at WWE events – there was friction between him and the promotion. He was less than happy with the Max Moon gimmick – he hated that costume and never tires of letting people know about it. The costume in question cost Vince $13000, but after just a few televised matches, Konnan dumped the costume and the gimmick and went off to wrestle with Mexican promotions. The costume was eventually passed on to Paul Diamond, but this created a number of problems because Konnan was still a contracted WWE wrestler. This lead to all sorts of animosity between the two parties; Vince had invested heavily in Konnan and his character, and it’s thought he still holds a grudge over Konnan for leaving and abandoning the gimmick the way he did.
Konnan’s also urged fans to boycott the “racist” WWE; this bridge is well and truly burned.
13 Gail Kim
Gail Kim is now famous for her time in TNA, but she’s also had a couple of stints with Vince’s promotion. Her first period with WWE ended in 2004 – the reason for her release was due to cost cutting, something Kim found hard to take at the time. Apparently, she was told the company wanted to inject some new talent into the Women’s Division and that she didn’t feature in their plans. She obviously remained in their thoughts because she was re-signed four years later.
This time around, her exit from the promotion was farcical; in a Battle Royal match, Kim eliminated herself pretty much immediately. She said she was following instructions, but she ended up getting a lot of heat over the incident, and this prompted her to hand in her termination notice. Initially, WWE didn’t accept the papers, but eventually gave in and she left the promotion to go back to TNA. After she left, Kim began to speak out about WWE and her distaste about how she – and female talent in general – were handled. She also said that she’d burned bridges with the promotion and that there was zero possibility of her re-signing with WWE. She’s since been true to her word.
12 Paul London
For those of us looking in, it didn’t really seem as if Paul London was having a terrible time of it during his five-year spell with WWE. He gained a decent amount of success in the Tag Team Division – mainly with partner Brian Kendrick – but it was after he left when he began speaking out about the promotion.
He’s said that the WWE was a “horrible place to work” for a number of reasons. Firstly, he got a lot of heat for apparently stealing Billy Kidman’s moves; he found the whole situation utterly ridiculous, and was amazed that no one, including his tag team partner, spoke out and backed him up on the issue.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. He’s said that he was treated like “absolute garbage” and that the working environment isn’t good “for human beings of any nature.”
It’s safe to say he won’t be re-signing with the promotion in in the future.
11 Teddy Hart
Teddy Hart burned bridges with WWE due to his own antics – if everyone else is to be believed, that is. The promotion had high hopes for him, as they signed him when he was just 18 years old, but even as a teenager, he was cocky and had a seriously bad attitude. He returned briefly, wrestling in a few dark matches between 2005-2007, but the bridge had already been well and truly burned – there was no way back onto the main roster for Hart.
He’s said a lot of these stories have just been hyped, but numerous stars have spoken out about Hart – they can’t all be making things up, can they? CM Punk’s one of the more notable names to have criticized Hart about his “piss poor attitude:” ... “No worries though, if it gets you anywhere, I’d bet my life and 100 dollars that you’d find a way to ruin it for yourself with your out of control ego as well as your piss poor attitude.”
10 Scott Steiner
Scott Steiner has had a couple of stints with WWE, amounting to a total of four years; it’s remarkable to think that a guy as big as Steiner is in the industry – with a career that’s lasted 30 years and is still ongoing – has only spent four years with WWE!
The last time Steiner was released from WWE in 2004, the promotion used his injury as a reason for letting him go; but after he left, plenty came to light and he hasn’t held back in ripping into WWE. He’s been vocal in trashing the McMahons, the latest addition to their family – Triple H – and just the whole way the company’s run. “There are dumbasses running the company” and “WWE ruins talent with bad gimmicks," are just some of the things he’s said – some of the only things that are clean enough to be included in this article anyway!
WWE did offer Steiner a Legend’s Contract, but he tore it up right away. Looks like that’s probably the last olive branch to be offered by WWE.
9 Jeff Jarrett
Jeff Jarrett's name is understandably on this list. During the course of his 16-year career, he’s had a couple of stints with WWE, and the last one – which ended in 1999 – certainly resulted in him burning bridges with the company; he hasn’t returned to WWE since.
His departure the second time around was tainted – even more – because of money issues. Jarrett’s contract had expired but he still had a title defense. In order to wrestle on without a contract, it’s alleged that Jarret forced Vince’s hand and made him shell out $300,000. Jarrett later came out and said that he received what he was owed, but plenty of people say that it was a case of extortion. Whatever anyone says, he hasn’t been invited back since that incident – something happened and that something seems to have ruined the relationship between Jeff and WWE for good.
Chyna had a sadly short and very troubled life. She battled substance abuse problems and had deep family issues, but despite all of this, she had a reasonably successful WWE career, winning a couple of Intercontinental Championships and the Women’s Championship during her four-year stint with the promotion.
In 2001, she hadn’t appeared on a WWE televised event for months, and then the whole Tripe H/Stephanie McMahon incident was enough to get her booted out the door. Chyna claimed that Triple H had an affair with Stephanie while they were still together, and when she told Vince about the situation, he sent her packing – sent her a fax telling her she was finished with the company. Recently, other reports have come to light saying that it was a money issue – Chyna wanted more than double what she was receiving – and Vince was having none of it.
She herself has said that it was all personal and that after that, they always had a grudge against her. “I don't know what's the beef, maybe that I can't make it on my own without them. Maybe it's the jealousy between Vince and me and Hunter.” Chyna burned bridges with WWE and was never invited back after that incident in 2001 before her tragic death years later.
7 Mr. Kennedy
Ken Anderson wrestled with WWE for four years, during which time– as he later said – he had to contend with a lot of crap that rained down on him from the management and the guys at the top. He claims this is why he was released – the established pros got together and ganged up on him to force him out of the company.
Apparently, Randy Orton had been very vocal in complaining about Anderson’s supposed recklessness in the ring. He made a big song and dance about going to best buddy John Cena with his problems; whatever Cena says goes, so when Cena then went to Vince, Anderson’s fate had been sealed and Vince handed him his termination papers. He’s since spoken about the way things are run at WWE – understandably so – and has been especially vocal in his opinions about how WWE treats injured wrestlers.
6 CM Punk
If you’re a wrestling fan of any sort, you’re probably aware of the highly publicized long-lasting feud between CM Punk and Vince McMahon – and the WWE in general for that matter. It’s no secret that Punk had a terrible time of it – particularly towards the latter end of his career – at WWE, and he’s been very vocal in his displeasure about his treatment and the company’s handling of wrestlers in general. There’s way too much bad blood between the two parties; Punk was already on his way out, but the fact WWE handed him his termination papers on his wedding day really meant that there was no going back. Since then, Punk hasn’t held back; just type CM Punk disses WWE on the internet – or something along those lines – and you’ll be bombarded with a ton of stuff. Punk doesn’t really like wrestling anymore and hates the WWE, so that’s that.
5 Colt Cabana
In Colt Cabana’s case, it’s perhaps a case of guilty by association – bridges burned due to his association with CM Punk. Cabana and Punk have been brothers in arms for a long time – or they were until very recently anyway. Cabana gave Punk a platform – not that he really needed one anyway – to express his views on WWE and Vince, and the two became close friends. He even backed up Punk’s claims of mistreatment at the hands of WWE physician Christopher Amann. This effectively scrapped any chance of Cabana being contracted again with the promotion, although by this time, Cabana was doing reasonably well away from WWE and probably didn’t care. His only stint with WWE was less than remarkable; he didn’t win anything on the main roster, but at least it hasn’t held him back.
4 New Jack
New Jack’s known as one of the most violent and hated men in the business. He’s got one hell of a mean streak in him. The fact that New Jack’s on this list may surprise many of you because New Jack hasn’t actually ever been contracted with WWE. So how has he pissed WWE off? How has he burned bridges with them? Despite never having wrestled with them? It’s alleged that he was actually due to make an appearance, to stab John Cena in a storyline, but nothing materialized. Just as well, because the story goes that plenty of prominent stars threatened to walk away from the company if New Jack was brought in. His lack of professionalism, history and mindset were just some of the things many wrestlers just didn’t want to be around. He behaves like a thug and has regularly spoken out about how he hates the business and everyone in it. He’s even said he has tried to actually murder people – for real – inside and outside the ring.
New Jack has said that he was approached by Paul Heyman in an effort to get him to come to WWE, but he knew it wouldn’t work out. It's just as well because I don’t think anybody would have wanted that to happen.
3 Rene Dupree
Rene Dupree spent four years with WWE and had a reasonable time of it, mainly wrestling in the Tag Team Division. There was never any real bad blood between the two parties – none that we knew about anyway – until recently when plenty of stuff came to light.
Earlier this year, Dupree filed a lawsuit against the WWE – a lawsuit regarding a dispute about royalty payments. It’s all rather technical jargon, but the long and short of it is that the WWE allegedly breached certain terms in their contracts with wrestlers and they breached the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. This lawsuit’s worth millions of dollars; other wrestlers, including Jesse Ventura, have gone to court over the same issue and have won. Let’s see if Dupree can defeat Vince’s financial and legal muscle; whatever happens, he’s certainly burned all bridges leading back to WWE.
2 Randy Savage
This one might surprise a lot of you. The term “burning bridges” essentially means that there’s no going back – in the case of this article, it means that a wrestler’s done with WWE. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s bad blood between the wrestler and WWE, it just mean lot’s happened and there’s no going back.
There’s a ton of stuff that’s been circulating as to why Savage and WWE parted ways. But when he left, he actually stated it was just that the WWE had a different vision; they wanted him to do some commentary, but he wasn’t ready to stop wrestling at that point.
It’s alleged that Savage promised to re-sign with WWE at a later date, but then went back on his word, which apparently angered Vince McMahon. Anyway, Savage unfortunately died in 2011 so we’ll never know if the burned bridge between Savage and WWE could have been constructed again.
1 Marc Mero
Marc Mero had a three-year stint with WWE in the 1990s, and won a couple of championships during that time. Having come into the industry from a boxing background, the goings-on in WWE was like another world to him and opened his eyes up to a lot of things regarding how the industry operated. How WWE operated certainly wasn’t to Mero’s liking and he hasn’t held back in expressing his views. He began to get very vocal at the time of the Chris Benoit murder-suicide incident. He appeared on many TV shows and radio shows and was very critical about the wrestling industry as a whole, but particularly WWE. Mero spoke out about the road schedule wrestlers contracted with WWE were forced to operate on and the company’s general treatment of wrestlers.
Mero’s retired now, but even if he was still wrestling, judging by what he’s said, he wouldn’t want to go back to WWE, and WWE probably wouldn’t invite him back either.