Wrestling fans have long gotten used to how, in WWE, there really is no such thing as “gone forever.” Many a star who seemed to be on the outs for good has returned to WWE. Jeff Jarrett looked to have burned bridges in WWE big time but was welcomed back for some big appearances, including the Royal Rumble. Bret Hart, Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, and Lex Luger are guys fans thought would never appear in WWE again, but they all did. Then there’s how CM Punk is suddenly part of their “Backstage” show. It’s amazing how some guys who pulled massive stunts can be welcomed back by WWE.
Some guys, however, are infamous for how they burned scores of bridges in their time. Not just with WWE, either, but WCW and other territories. While Bruiser Brody was liked, he had a bad rep for turning off promoters and getting into trouble. A lot of guys had grudges with the big companies that they carried all the way to their dying day while others still slam both companies majorly. These are just wrestlers, not just personalities like Jim Cornette or Vince Russo as it’s remarkable how many people one wrestler can tick off. Here are 10 notable wrestlers who burned bridges with both WWE and WCW.
10 Randy Savage
Randy Savage’s issues with WWE are well-known. His sudden exit from the company in 1994 was a surprise given what a huge star Savage was for so many years. It gave birth to the conspiracy theory that it was because of a relationship between Savage and a young Stephanie McMahon.
Savage’s WCW tenure wasn’t bad but by 2000, things were getting rough and Savage walked on the company a few months before it went under. The rest of his life had Savage bad-mouthing Vince, Hogan, and anyone else in rather insane ways. It wasn’t until his passing that WWE put him in the Hall of Fame, as the Macho Man burned a lot of people.
9 Tom Zenk
Tom Zenk seemed to go out of his way to burn bridges before he even crossed them. He got a major break in WWE, as he and Rick Martel were the popular Can-Am Connection with plans to make them champions. But Zenk threw a fit over his pay and walked out on the company. His WCW tenure had him teaming with Brian Pillman and a TV title reign, but not much notable.
In the 2000s, Zenk earned a new reputation for his outrageous interviews talking trash on just about anyone in the business. When he passed away in 2017, Zenk was well known for his epic burnings more than anything in the ring.
8 Maxx Payne
As an actual wrestler, Maxx Payne wasn’t that notable. As a guy who went out of his way to make sure neither WWE or WCW would ever work with him again, he’s a star. His tenure in WCW had him and Cactus Jack as tag team champions, but Payne botched a move to injure Brian Knobs. When he refused to apologize for it, he was fired.
In WWE, he was Man Mountain Rock and clashed with several workers. When it turned out that he was secretly filming other wrestlers for a documentary, he was fired. Payne hasn’t wrestled in a while as even the indies are wary thanks to his rep.
7 Paul Roma
Paul Roma was a guy who always seemed on the verge of some stardom but not getting to that major level. His tenure in WWE had him fighting with tag partners Jim Powers and Hercules and clashing with other wrestlers before leaving in 1991.
On his WCW tenure, Roma has actually claimed “Ric Flair was jealous of me” and brushing off being fired after refusing to put over Alex Wright. Roma’s interviews since retiring have just added to this mentality and making a Roma a guy who not only burns bridges but blows them up and doesn’t look back.
6 Ultimate Warrior
While he made up with WWE just before his death, that doesn’t ignore how long the Ultimate Warrior burned bridges with that company as well as WCW. Warrior was known for a huge ego and attitude that threw too many people off. He left the company in 1991, returned the next year and left again under a huge cloud.
After several years, Warrior came to WCW where he and Hogan had one of the worst major matches ever seen. He left after that over pay and spent the next decade going on rants about anyone in the business. It took his death for the Warrior to be better regarded by WWE.
In various interviews, Raven himself wishes he hadn’t burned so many bridges over his career. He had minor runs in both WWE and WCW before jumping to ECW and remaking himself into a star. His WCW tenure ended with him literally walking out of the locker room to quit the company.
After ECW went down, he joined WWE for a long run, usually losing, and a planned “Seven Sins” program dropped at the last minute. Raven spent years blasting both companies in interviews yet regrets how his behavior ruined some future career prospects.
4 Perry Saturn
Perry Saturn had gotten his start in ECW before joining WCW as part of Raven’s “Flock.” He had success there but soon felt held back by politics. In a bold move, he joined Benoit, Guerrero, and Malenko in jumping to WWE as the Radicalz.
At first, Saturn did well as European champion, but, when he beat up a jobber for real during a match, Saturn was punished with the infamous “Moppy” storyline. Saturn has not spoken well of either company over the years, and, while some of his backlash was deserved, he still ruined some of his own chances.
3 Chris Jericho
Given his long run in WWE, the idea of Jericho burning bridges with them may seem off. After rising to fame as an obnoxious heel in WCW, Jericho realized he was getting nowhere in that company and left, bad-mouthing WCW for their treatment of him. He was given a huge debut for WWE and holding just about every belt in the company.
Jericho left WWE and currently helping to build up AEW. That seems to burn bridges with Vince McMahon, who never takes well to folks going to the competition. Jericho is doing well in AEW, which is good as it seems unlikely he’ll be popping into WWE again.
2 Eddie Gilbert
If there’s a “bridge-burning hall of fame,” Eddie Gilbert is in it. He was an amazing talent as a terrific heel and a top booker. But Gilbert couldn't help getting on the wrong side of bosses anywhere he went. He had a brief run with WWE in the early 1980s but felt they didn’t support him well after a car accident.
After building up a reputation in various territories, Gilbert joined WCW for some pushes taking on Ric Flair. But, between his ego and personal issues, Gilbert was gone in a year and moved to Memphis. When he passed in 1995, Gilbert was better remembered for all the bad blood he caused then the good stuff he did in the ring.
1 Shane Douglas
Shane Douglas may have been talented in his prime but is also recognized as a guy who thinks he’s a much bigger star than he really was. He had a brief run in WWE before teaming with Ricky Steamboat to win the WCW tag titles. Douglas left in a cloud and journey to ECW where he became a big star.
He journeyed to WWE as “Dean” Douglas but clashed with the Clique and a 15-minute reign as IC champion. Douglas returned to ECW then a run in WCW which ended badly. Douglas is famous today for ranting about everyone from Shawn Michaels to Ric Flair “holding me back” and how he was a victim instead of the instigator.