There comes a time in every professional wrestler's career where they have to hang up the boots for good. As newer talent arises the older veterans in certain situations often get bumped down a notch or two to make way for fresh faces that companies can test out in front of the millions of viewers that tune in each week. Of course people like John Cena tend to be in the spotlight a little longer than usual. The time will come when Cena has to retire but there's no reason for him to complain since he's lasted much longer than a majority of the wrestlers that have competed in the WWE. While the 16-time world champion will most likely get to leave the squared circle on good terms, there have been several other stars that didn't quite get the happy ending to their stint in the premiere wrestling organization that they deserved. Saying Vince McMahon and the rest of his crew play favorites might be a bit too much.
What's safe to say is that the superstars working under his watchful eye are on a short leash and any slip up or incident that causes negative publicity may warrant the dreaded pink slip. In this list we will discuss those who were unceremoniously released from the WWE to the dismay of those who watch them week in and week out. Not every wrestler can have top notch job security like Mr. Cena. Here are the top 15 WWE wrestlers who were released for ridiculous reasons.
15 Muhammad Hassan
When it comes down to it Muhammad Hassan was released because of horrible timing and bad luck. He simply did what he was instructed to do and paid dearly for it. On an episode of SmackDown that was taped on July 4, 2005, former SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long announced that The Undertaker would take on Hassan at The Great American Bash pay-per-view that was set to take place later that month. On that same episode Long placed Daivari, Hassan's manager, in a match later that night against The Deadman. Daivari was defeated, but Hassan decided to pray on the ramp to summon five men wearing black masks to attack The Undertaker.
The London bombings took place three days later, the same day the show aired, and Hassan's acts were seen as disrespectful towards those who suffered in the attacks. Hassan was written off WWE television at The Bash that month with Taker powerboming him to the concrete from the stage. He was released from his contract in September without ever appearing on television again. Obviously the promising Hassan and everyone else across the globe had no idea that those attacks were going to take place which is why he really can't be blamed for the tasteless skit. It's unfortunate that one of the best heels we've seen in a long time had to abruptly come to an end for actions that were out of his control.
14 Elijah Burke
When Elijah Burke first appeared on television sets back in 2006 he was the manager for Sylvester Terkay. Terkay was nothing we hadn't seen before. A foreign brawler who was an imposing figure that could toss around a jobber or two. Boring. Burke appeared to be the more intriguing of the two since he was working the mic most the time which caused many to wonder what he was made of. After Terkay was released in 2007, Burke got his shot at making a name for himself by becoming a singles competitor. The talent was clearly there but the WWE creative team failed to work with a more than capable wrestler at their disposal. Burke basically vanished from TV for several months in 2008 before the typical future endeavors article was posted on WWE.com.
Paul Heyman and Senior Write Dave Lagana thought very highly of Burke. Once Heyman left the company and Lagana was fired, there was no one left to support Burke. He is now in TNA as D'Angelo Dinero and seemed to be getting over with the crowd fairly well but for some reason they recently stuck him in a commentary role instead of letting him perform in the ring. Leave it to TNA to do something this moronic.
Telling someone that made their career off of their size to lose some weight is like asking Stone Cold to stop drinking beer. It just doesn't make sense. Sure it probably wouldn't have hurt for Rikishi to lose some pounds but we all know the Stink Face wouldn't be the same without his girth behind him. After being asked repeatedly to shed some weight the WWE was fed up with the former Too Cool member and released him in 2004. I would assume that Rikishi is pretty healthy these days and he looked to be in good shape in 2015 when he was inducted in to the Hall of Fame.
Besides the proud member of the Fatu family was very agile for a man of his size and could put on a match with the best of them back in the day. It's not like he was the first person in the WWE to be a little overweight.
12 Damien Sandow
Damien Sandow was in the wrong place at the wrong time. After gaining popularity with his awesome gimmick of being The Miz's stunt double in 2014, Sandow looked to be on his way to a storyline that would allow him to showcase his talents even better. Unfortunately that shot at a more promising role never came to fruition. The WWE ushered in a "new era" and no longer had use for Sandow. This is another example of the creative team dropping the ball. The stunt double gimmick was fantastic, surely they could have come up with something equally as entertaining instead of simply letting the Kentucky native be released.
The audiences ate up his act and clearly wanted more from him but I guess the WWE didn't see the potential in him. Let's hope that they give him another chance so that he can leave TNA and ditch that horrible Aron Rex character.
11 Shelton Benjamin
If promos weren't a part of professional wrestling Shelton Benjamin would have been one of the greatest competitors we've ever seen. While his limited mic skills held him back at times, Benjamin put on some of the most entertaining matches we've seen in a long time. Sure he botched a move every now and then but who hasn't? His athletic ability stemming from his amateur wrestling background was second to none and he showcased his athleticism with several awe-inspiring maneuvers. It's too bad that the creative team behind Benjamin couldn't think of a decent storyline to put him in. Seriously that's why he was released in 2010.
It wasn't something he did, it was simply the writers not being able to conjure up something for Benjamin to work with. They really gave up on the Golden Gopher athlete at a time where the roster was sub par when compared to previous years. Let's hope that Benjamin can return to action soon as he is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury, putting a hold on his scheduled return to the WWE.
10 Isis The Amazon
It's not often that we see a woman that's almost seven feet tall. Isis The Amazon, who was set to go by "Aloisia" on NXT, was supposed to make her debut on the show during season three of the all-female competition but was never seen again after being introduced to the wrestling world in 2010. For quite some time no one knew why the 6'9" rookie never made it to the ring. Turns out that a set of risque photos was what ultimately made the company hold her back from appearing on television; they wound up releasing her before even attempting to use her in another role.
Funny thing is that several other female wrestlers have done the same thing as Isis but were not punished for their actions. I mean the WWE used to promote its Divas in Playboy which makes this whole thing even more ridiculous. Isis is now attempting a comeback in professional wrestling. We'll see if she gets another shot at the big time down the road at some point.
9 Jim Ross
Ring side announcers play just as big of a role in the professional wrestling industry as the wrestlers themselves which is why Jim Ross is included in our list. Ross is synonymous with the WWE. One could even say that the company wouldn't be where it is today without Ross manning the mic. The announcer who is considered by many to be the greatest of all time at his profession, was released from the company after a press event for WWE 2K14 took a bizarre turn for the worse. Ric Flair joined Ross for the event that was held during the weekend of SummerSlam and was inebriated throughout the event.
Flair lost his youngest son Reid six months earlier and was still feeling the effects of the heartbreaking loss. Ross was unable to keep Flair under control and joined the wrestler in making a number of inappropriate remarks before they made their way off stage. JR has stated that he was not intoxicated during the whole thing. The WWE ended up firing him a few weeks later because of the chaos that unraveled at the video game panel. You would think that someone who has played such a prominent role in the development of professional wrestling would have been given a second chance. It's too bad that both parties just didn't see eye to eye in the end.
Unlike most of the names on this list Emma was given a second chance after an incident at Walmart occurred back in 2014. The Australian pro wrestler was using a self-checkout machine and forgot to scan an iPad case that she had grabbed earlier while shopping. She was subsequently arrested for shoplifting. Hours after hearing about the arrest the WWE released Emma from her contract. Fans on social media voiced their displeasure over her firing and the outrage got to the point where the WWE decided to re-hire her the same day.
While a wrestler doesn't make as much money as your average professional athlete, there is no reason why Emma would have to shoplift something like an iPad case. It was clearly a mistake and the knee-jerk reaction to fire her is pretty pathetic considering that Vince was willing to let one of the more promising wrestlers go over a simple misunderstanding. At least she's back on the roster now.
7 Mickie James
There haven't been many women that have garnered the attention that Mickie James attracted. She is second to only Trish Stratus in women's title reigns; that is some great company to be associated with. In May 2010 James was on tour with the rest of the WWE Superstars in Europe. On more then one occasion she was late to the bus, holding up the travel plans from city to city. This, along with a desire to work in the music industry and weight issues, was enough to warrant her release. The WWE isn't crazy about their employees pursuing other opportunities while working full time as a professional wrestler.
Women with the promo and wrestling skills that James possesses don't come around often which is why it was surprising to see her let go so suddenly. At least she's back in the company now.
6 Matt Hardy
The Hardys are one of the most well-renowned tag teams in wrestling history. The argument as to which brother is the better performer will always be up for debate. After Jeff left for TNA in 2004, Matt was left to fend for himself in the singles division. Matt proved that he could carry his own weight by showing that his work could still thrive without his younger brother by his side. The real life relationship between Matt and former Women's Champion Lita soon found its way into the WWE. Lita had cheated on Matt with "The Rated R Superstar" Edge and things got ugly soon after. After finding out that Lita was messing around with Edge, Matt took to social media to voice his displeasure. It wasn't the craziest tirade we've seen online and it was understandable since Lita really did hurt Matt with her actions.
The WWE didn't take kindly to Matt's actions and released him in April 2005. Matt (31) was in the prime of his career and his post online wasn't bad enough to be fired. Those of us who have been cheated on know that it sucks. This is definitely one of the stranger things to happen inside and outside of the squared circle.
5 Albert Del Rio
Racism in the work environment should never be tolerated. Unfortunately in the case of Alberto Del Rio it was. Del Rio was fired on August 7, 2014 after being involved in an argument with Social Media Manager Cody Barbierri. Del Rio claims that Barbierri made racist remarks towards him and slapped him in the face for doing so. At first the WWE was going to suspend him but took their punishment a step further and fired him instead. So who was in the wrong here? Del Rio probably didn't have to hit Barbierri but at the same time Barbierri had no right to use racial slurs towards the former champion.
The firing of Del Rio came at a very surprising time as he was still being booked in high-profile matches. What was worse is that Barbierri wasn't released due to the incident, although he did leave the company a few months later. If Del Rio got fired then Barbierri should have been let go on the spot as well. The incident set a bad precedent for the WWE and could have been handled much better. Del Rio was brought back a year later but now wrestles for TNA. He probably won't get fired for such a ridiculous reason this time around.
4 Highlander Robbie
TNA is the reason why Highlander Robbie got fired. Plain and simple. Okay it might not have been the wisest decision on Robbie's part to attend a TNA event but he could have gone unnoticed. In 2008 the WWE made a stop in Florida, the home of Impact Wrestling. Robbie decided to check out some of the local talent and bought some tickets to the Impact show that was going on before WrestleMania. So Robbie shows up to the event and what does the TNA production crew do? Show him on TV. Dirty move TNA, dirty move. Of course Vince heard about this and removed him from his bout at WrestleMania. Throw in a $5,000 fine and you have one of the most unnecessary disciplinary actions ever. He was simply trying to enjoy some professional wrestling from the other side of the entertainment business but wound up paying for it as he was released a few months later.
His firing might have been a blessing in disguise though, as he stated in a 2011 interview that he was quite unhappy with the company. Whatever makes you happy Robbie, that's all that matters.
3 Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan was released twice from the WWE - once in 2001 and later in 2010. The latter is what earned Bryan a spot on our list. During season one of NXT the rookies from the show formed The Nexus and began destroying everyone that got in their way. On June 7, 2010 the stable of young talent invaded an episode of Raw and began wreaking havoc by attacking John Cena and destroying the ringside area. During the brawl Bryan pretended to choke ring announcer Justin Roberts with his own neck tie. The act was deemed too violent for PG era television (nothing compared to Attitude Era standards) and led to Bryan's firing four days later.
We all know that Bryan wound up being re-hired by the WWE but that doesn't make up for his bogus firing a few months before he was brought back. Kudos to Vince for realizing he made a mistake and for giving Bryan a second chance.
2 Ken Kennedy
Mr. Kennedy had main-event potential written all over him. His promo skills were second to none and his performances in the ring were just as brilliant. Unfortunately one slight miscue led to his firing in 2009. During a 10-man tag-team match on Raw, Kennedy performed a backdrop on Randy Orton. The move looked to have been done without a hitch but Orton, who has had a history of shoulder injuries, did not receive the move well and made it well known to management that Kennedy was reckless in the the and that the move could have ended his career. Kennedy was released later that night.
To release someone after one tiny incident that didn't result in an injury is kind of insane. A fine or suspension would have been much more understandable. The talented wrestler has been between the independent circuit and TNA since his firing eight years ago.
1 Dawn Marie
When someone becomes pregnant they're often given a leave of absence from their job. That's not the case in the WWE. Dawn Marie wasn't the best in-ring talent we've ever seen but she did play a rather large role on SmackDown's programming, specifically during her feud with Torrie Willson. In 2005 Marie let the world know that she was pregnant. This didn't sit well with the WWE so they released her because she was carrying a child. Crazy. Imagine being fired from your job as soon as you find out that you're expecting a newborn baby. I can't imagine the stress that fell upon Dawn Marie.
A move like this would not go over well by today's standards. They could have at least given Marie her walking orders after she gave birth but apparently that would have been too much to ask for back then. Dawn wound up filing a lawsuit against the WWE and the case was settled in 2007. Rosa Mendes should count her blessings since she became pregnant during her time as a professional wrestler as well. Instead of getting fired, she was given a leave of absence. She retired from wrestling about a year after she gave birth. At least she went out on her own terms.