While it may be a dream to work in WWE for many wrestlers, for some, it can turn into a nightmare. The promise of being on television making big money can be alluring to many, but eventually, that's not enough. For a few superstars, they need more so they find it elsewhere, for others, they try to stay until they despise what they're doing. We're going to focus on the latter here for this list. Here are 10 wrestlers who quit WWE out of frustration.
If you were to make a Mount Rushmore of the greatest wrestlers of all time, "Macho Man" Randy Savage would definitely be on there. His unique charisma only complimented his in-ring skill, and WWE rewarded him with two WWE World Championships. Yet, by the time the early 1990s rolled around, WWE was headed in a different direction.
With the creation of Monday Night Raw, Savage was taken out of the ring and into the commentary booth as the company focused on younger wrestlers. Just in his early 40s, Savage thought he still had more to offer and even laid out a feud with Shawn Michaels. The idea was shot down, and shortly after, he left.
Neville was the perfect superstar to build the cruiserweight division around. His high-flying abilities are second-to-none, and he was gaining momentum on the main roster beforehand. "The King of The Cruiserweights" carried the title with pride, but a series of issues lead to his eventual departure. The first, his WrestleMania pre-show match against Austin Aries was left off the event's official Blu-Ray despite being one of the best bouts of the night. The last straw, however, was dropping the title to Enzo Amore. The former superstar admitted as much when asked a few months later. Now, he seems to be pretty happy wrestling in Dragon Gate Wrestling, so maybe this was the best thing for him.
When Goldberg arrived on the scene in the WWE, Vince McMahon had one of the biggest names imaginable under his employment. Unfortunately, it seems like they bumbled every big moment for him. While he did eventually get a run with the world title, after losing a match most believe he should have won, it was too little too late. Once WrestleMania XX rolled around, he made it clear his match with Brock Lesnar would be his last. Speaking with Stone Cold Steve Austin in 2018, he admitted he grew frustrated with many people backstage. He admits some of it may be his own paranoia, but he constantly felt like there were people plotting against him. So, he left.
We may like to joke about the quality of WWE movies, but they're a great chance for superstars to expand their resumes. For Batista, that was no different. He felt like he wasn't a good actor and wanted to prove he could cut it in that field, but WWE didn't want to give him that chance. So, Batista left for greener pastures. He took a bet on himself, and now he's doing pretty well as Drax The Destroyer in Guardians of The Galaxy along with other film projects. If WWE invested in his dreams, perhaps they would have kept one of their biggest names in an era where those were getting harder and harder to come by.
Sgt. Slaughter was one of the biggest names in the WWE during the 1980s. He was so popular, in fact, that he got a recurring role on the 1980s Saturday morning cartoon, G.I. Joe. But when the time came for his character to get an action figure in his likeness, Vince McMahon got protective of his star attraction.
We guess we can see why this happened — WWE's first wave of action figures launched in 1984 and Slaughter's first appearance on G.I. Joe was in 1985, so perhaps it would be unintentional competition. Still, Slaughter didn't see it that way, so he left WWE to get that sweet, sweet 1980s children's cartoon money.
The Montreal Screwjob was frustrating for a multitude of reasons. The first, and most obvious, it's awful to see superstar of Bret Hart's stature get bamboozled out of a title in his last match for the company, but there was another big change — wrestlers quit. Mick Foley famously had a short walk out, and the British Bulldog followed Hart to WCW, but so did Rick Rude. At the time, Rude was actually managing Shawn Michaels as part of DX, but two days after Survivor Series 1997, the talented performer called Eric Bischoff to inform him he was disgusted in WWE's treatment of Hart and he went to work for WCW.
Dean Ambrose, or Jon Moxley, always felt like the red-headed stepchild of The Shield. While Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns got multiple WWE championships, high profile feuds, and main event pushes, Ambrose was left in the middle of the card. Sure, he did eventually get a run with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but that came at a time shortly after the Brand Split when SmackDown Live was short on main eventers. To put it simply, Ambrose wasn't used to his full potential. He knew that and tried to fight against ideas he'd think would hurt him, but they fell on deaf ears. In a recent podcast with Chris Jericho, Moxley admitted as much saying he had multiple conversations with Vince McMahon about segments that bothered him, but most of the time, he was ignored until he left.
This reason has only been rumored to be the case, but if true, this could be the most frustrating WWE departure of all. AJ Lee was the centerpiece of the women's division when they didn't have much going on. Still, she managed to put on some fantastic matches, and her promos were some of the best we've heard in years. Not only that, but she was the catalyst for women's wrestlers to get their own merchandise for the first time in years. Unfortunately, Lee left the company shortly after her husband CM Punk blasted WWE, causing the company's doctor, Chris Amann to take Punk to court. Rumors suggest that Lee left as a result of this issue, as she already had heat with higher-ups before this. So, she simply decided to retire.
Cody Rhodes was never given his cup of coffee in the big time. Instead, the son of the son of a plumber was left toiling in the mid-card of WWE most of his career. That is until WWE pitched him the character of Stardust — which was really just a reason to dress him up like his brother Goldust. To his credit, Cody made it work. He hissed at fans, cut great promos and really went all-in with the character. But it went nowhere. Instead, he was left off Raw, and mainly wrestled on Superstars or Main Event. He asked to drop the gimmick but was denied. That's when he decided to bet on himself. He was granted his release, and since then, he's proven he's a main eventer anywhere he goes.
This is technically a firing — he was sent his papers on his wedding day — but we think Punk's story of why he walked out on WWE is reason enough to put him on this list. To start, he says he was refused medical treatment for a staph infection and wasn't taken seriously when he had a concussion. Still, he worked through the pain to prove he was the best in the world. Unfortunately, WWE didn't see it that way. Instead, he was booked to lose against the Undertaker at WrestleMania, he dropped the WWE Championship to The Rock, and was heading into a feud with Triple H before he quit. Sure, that doesn't sound bad for most stars today, but always coming up on the losing end to guys who won't be there next week could get frustrating.