Let’s be fair here and say that WWE does not have a crystal ball and cannot see the future of how things will play out with wrestlers that they sign – they do not know if a wrestler will be one hundred percent successful when they sign them, but certainly they hope for the best each time that a wrestler signs on the dotted line of their contract.
Sometimes a wrestler may start out with tremendous promise, but ultimately begin to fail in the eyes of management or wrestling fans which leads to regret of their signing. Other times a wrestler may not be panning out the way that WWE hoped that they would and release them prematurely, only to watch them flourish as performers outside of WWE, leading to them wishing that they held on to that performer. Sometimes it's a case of a wrestler simply being incredibly difficult to work with and the company simply wishes they had avoided the headache. Sometimes a wrestler can be difficult to work with, but their contribution to the company makes them worth it. Sometimes, they're simply not worth it.
I bet that WWE wishes that they had a crystal ball to ensure that their signings always pay off, but until then we get to see the 10 Wrestlers The WWE Regrets Hiring And 10 They Regret Firing.
20 Regrets Firing: AJ Styles
Yes folks, you read that correctly – WWE had the chance to have AJ Styles on WWE television close to 15 years earlier than they did when he debuted in the 2016 Royal Rumble.
Styles was under contract with WCW when WWE purchased them in 2001, but due to his status of a relatively unknown Cruiserweight, they chose to relieve him of his contact and he did not appear with the company.
I bet the person who made that decision ended up kicking themselves as they watched Styles grow to be one of the biggest wrestling stars outside of WWE due to his appearances with TNA and New Japan. This must be certain as it is widely reported that WWE tried to recruit him numerous times over the years, but were unsuccessful. Just imagine what WWE would have been like if his talents were recognized at that point in time? Unbelievable!
19 Regrets Hiring: Enzo Amore
Can you say heat magnet? Since joining the main roster from NXT in 2016, Enzo Amore has developed an unsavory reputation amongst other WWE wrestlers for his loud and brash behavior – even JBL (who is not universally loved backstage either) has been quoted as saying “No! No, I don’t like Enzo. He’s a fine guy, but… Again, the guy you see on Monday nights is that guy 24 hours a day. There’s no off switch. It rubs people the wrong way.”
JBL isn’t the only one who has expressed this either with the WWE locker room kicking him out from changing in their locker room and Roman Reigns recently forcibly removing him from a tour bus. When someone is this disliked unanimously by other members of the roster, it creates a strange working environment for others, which WWE must regret introducing. With his recent allegations and failing to inform WWE he was under a police investigation, it sealed his fate in WWE and they surely regret hiring him now.
18 Regrets Firing: CM Punk
When Colt Cabana released his Art of Wrestling Podcast featuring his former best friend CM Punk in 2014 after months of silence following his “sabbatical” and release from WWE, very few expected the ultimate repercussions it would have for WWE. Punk did not hold anything back, and aired years of dirty laundry from his time as a wrestler, including calling our WWE’s medical staff and wrestlers he considered dangerous to work with. The biggest bombshell that was revealed was that Punk had been released with over-night FedEx termination papers on his wedding day, which caused outrage among CM Punk fans. I am sure if Vince McMahon had a crystal ball and could see the storm that would be created after Punk’s release, he surely would have thought twice about reacting so harshly.
17 Regrets Hiring: Sin Cara
I can recall the press release of Mistico initially being hired by WWE. All I had seen was that he was the 2006 Wrestling Observer Newsletter award winner for Best Box Office Draw, Best Flying Wrestler and Wrestler of the Year. He looked like a superstar in his press release photo wearing his luchador mask standing with Triple H. Unfortunately, that was where the good things about Mistico’s, WWE run ended. Known in WWE as Sin Cara, he became known for his numerous botches and injuries let all the steam out of his train.
Pulling away Sin Cara from his big-money deal in Mexico must have cost WWE a lot of money at the time, which ultimately did not have a big payoff. WWE eventually replaced the original Mistico with another wrestler, but continued to use the name and trademark. So much promise, but ultimately a big regret for WWE.
16 Regrets Firing: Ethan Carter III
Sometimes WWE just doesn't know what they have until it is gone, and that was the case with NXT wrestler Derrick Bateman. At a time when NXT was an ill-fated reality television show featuring members of the main roster mentoring “rookies” to win a competition for a main roster spot, Daniel Bryan had a rookie under his tutelage named Derrick Bateman.
Bateman had all of the makings of a star wrestler – he had a great muscular look, was improving in the ring with each match and was dynamite on the microphone.
Unfortunately, WWE did not use him in storylines very much, and ultimately released him without thinking twice. Eventually, Bateman resurfaced in Impact Wrestling as Ethan Carter III, the spoiled nephew of owner Dixie Carter. His career exploded as he became a multi-time World Champion and face of the company. While reports have surfaced that he will be returning to WWE in the near future, WWE must have been kicking themselves as they watched him improve week after week.
15 Regrets Hiring: Scott Steiner
As long-time wrestling fans can attest to, Scott Steiner used to be an excellent wrestler. As one half of the Steiner Brothers with his brother Rick, they were known as a fearsome tag team who employed hard-hitting suplexes into their arsenal, as well as various dangerous athletic maneuvers that were usually performed by much smaller wrestlers. Eventually, Steiner left WWE and become a main-event level talent in WCW, becoming a multi-time World Champion before WCW closed in 2001.
He did return to WWE in 2002, but was not nearly as athletic or fine-tuned in the ring as he previously was as he floundered as a main event talent. He was quickly exposed as a mediocre wrestler in comparison to WWE’s talent, leading to numerous botches in matches and interviews. Holla if you hear me? More like, Holla if you regret hiring me back.
14 Regrets Firing: Gail Kim
While we are currently experiencing a “revolution” in Women’s wrestling, which has led to walls being broken down in the wrestling industry, but unfortunately there are many that consider this aspect “too little, too late”. Take Gail Kim as an example, who entered WWE in 2002, but quickly learned that women’s wrestling was not on the top of their priority list, as her talents were not utilized as well as she had hoped. Ultimately, Kim left WWE on her own accord and experienced a career at the top of the Knockout’s Division in Impact Wrestling, a company she recently retired from. Gail Kim is the type of wrestler who could carry an entire division, but WWE missed the boat on her in a big way, as she has publicly vowed never to return to the company due to the way she was treated.
13 Regrets Hiring: Alberto Del Rio
Remember when Alberto Del Rio would be brought up in conversation and he would be thought of as one of the best wrestlers in WWE? Now, if he's mentioned it's an incredibly awkward conversation as has developed a reputation for being belligerent outside of the ring and for suffering from alcohol abuse which has made him wildly unpopular in the wrestling world. During his recent run in Impact Wrestling he showed signs of departing from his behavior that made him popular with fans, and had a tendency to run off at the mouth while on the microphone, bashing his time in WWE to anyone who would listen, and believing himself to have been misused as a wrestler. Sorry Del Rio, but I do not think WWE will be taking you back any time soon as your negativity is not welcome anymore.
12 Regrets Firing: Cody Rhodes
While WWE may not have released Cody Rhodes out of ill-will, I'm sure they are regretting not keeping him happy enough so he would not has requested his release in 2016. Since becoming a part of the independent scene, Rhodes has come wildly popular and a main-event level star in promotions like Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling where has achieved great success as a member of The Bullet Club faction.
During his time in WWE, it was clear that Rhodes would not be utilized in the main event scene despite his talent, and this disenfranchisement led him to leave WWE.
While WWE may have stood by their decision that Rhodes was not main-event level talent at the time, they must be kicking themselves now as Rhodes has proven to be a high-drawing star worthy of his status. Rhodes has not closed the door on a return to WWE, but is certainly enjoying his success, as he has stated that he is experiencing much large pay days on the independent scene.
11 Regrets Hiring: Jeff Jarrett
R-E-G-R-E-T – that is how Jeff Jarrett should have spelt his name, as there is no love-lost between him and WWE Management due to how their relationship ended when Jarrett was last employed by them in 1999. Initially seen as a corner-stone of the Intercontinental mid-card division, Jarrett tried to flex his muscles too much with WWE and extorted money out of them to perform while he was not under contract before he left for WCW.
Little did he know that WWE would purchase WCW in 2001, leaving him without a job and McMahon publicly stating that he would not hire him back on an episode of Monday Night RAW. In addition to this sour relationship, Jarrett also began the TNA Wrestling promotion which attempted to directly compete with WWE. While it miserably failed at being direct competition, it certainly did not make WWE management pine for a Jarrett return at any point.
10 Regrets Firing: Evan Bourne
WWE may not have a crystal ball to know what their future plans are (as long-term planning has never been one of their strong suits), but I'm sure that when they began the Cruiserweight Division in 2017 that someone must have thought to themselves, “Don’t you wish that we had some more established Cruiserweight wrestlers on the roster that we could put in this division?”.
Well, perhaps if they were not so open with letting Evan Bourne go after his Wellness Policy infractions, they would have had a wrestler who could have helped establish the division when it needed it the most. WWE has been open with keeping other wrestlers following violations of their policy in the past (such as multiple-time World Champions), but they did not do so for Evan Bourne, which has ultimately come back to bite them.
9 Regrets Hiring: Dana Brooke
I'm not normally one to speak ill of wrestlers who are genuinely trying their best to work as wrestlers in WWE, but there is little to celebrate when it comes to Dana Brooke’s wrestling ability.
Since debuting on the main roster, she has achieved little success in WWE as a performer, and ultimately has proven that she was brought up from NXT too early.
Despite being paired with one of the highest performing wrestlers in Charlotte Flair during her debut, she has not improved well enough on her own for WWE to be pleased with their decision to hire her. She's now been thrown with Titus O'Neil as part of Titus Worldwide. There will be few surprised wrestling fans if she is one of the first wrestlers released from her contract in 2018.
8 Regrets Firing: Bobby Lashley
Just like Ethan Carter III, sometimes the WWE just doesn't know what they have in a wrestler. While they did give Bobby Lashley every opportunity to succeed during his run, up to and including pairing him in high profile feuds with The McMahon family and providing him multiple World Championship opportunities, Lashley’s inexperience with the wrestling world caused him to flounder as a performer and he did not connect fully with the fans, ultimately causing him to leave WWE in 2008.
Over the years since his release he has come into his own as a performer, as evidenced by his run in Impact wrestling where he has shown great improvement on the microphone and in the ring. While reports have also indicated that he is on his way back to WWE in the coming months, there must have been feelings of regret when initially began showing success.
7 Regrets Hiring: Mahammad Hassan
Sometimes there are ideas that seem like a good idea at the time, but eventually the idea proves itself to not be worth the trouble it caused. If we were to look up instances like this in the dictionary, we would see a picture of Mahammad Hassan next to it. While WWE put a lot of stock into the Hassan character during his run in 2004, there were ultimately deep feelings of regret for featuring the character so heavily on television and for playing up a storyline built on terrorism. Ultimately, the biggest regret from WWE would be from their use of terrorism imagery during a segment with Hassan that aired closely after a terrorist attack in London, England. Following the incident the backlash was so strong that they quickly wrote Hassan off television and released him.
6 Regrets Firing: John Morrison
Another instance of WWE not necessarily letting a wrestler go outright, but not appreciating the wrestler enough to keep them interested and engaged with their spot on WWE programming. John Morrison was on track to continue his run as an upper-mid card wrestler in WWE, but some personal issues regarding his relationship with Melina led him to enter WWE’s “dog house” during his final years with the company, which led to his eventual departure.
After leaving WWE, Morrison showed his starpower on the independent circuit, as he has excellent showings across the world as a performer.
To make a long story short, the fact that WWE let a simple misunderstanding between him and Trish Stratus get in the way of doing good business is unfortunate, and a certain regret that must be held by management.
5 Regrets Hiring: Ryback
Oh my, did WWE open up a can of worms with “The Big Guy” after he was released from WWE. Ryback has not been shy about his feelings during his time in WWE, whether it be about things that he was not given or mistakes that were made with his character. He has been very vocal about his WWE experience. While the CM Punk example stated that this caused a nightmare for WWE due to Punk’s popularity, Ryback is not anywhere near as popular as Punk, so they would be pleased to be rid of the headaches that Ryback surely caused them during his time as a wrestler. Sorry Big Guy, but I don’t think there will be anyone from WWE knocking on your door over the next little while.
4 Regrets Firing: Christopher Daniels
Just like AJ Styles, WWE once has the opportunity to employ Christopher Daniels as a member of their roster following their purchase of WCW but ultimately chose not to keep his contract. While WWE did not recognize that “The King of the Indies” would be a big bankable star for them at the time, surely they have kicked themselves for not keeping him over the years as Daniels has proved that he is the type of wrestler that a promotion can build themselves around.
Daniels’ longevity in promotions like Impact Wrestling and Ring of Honor proves that he is a bankable star, and that WWE really missed the boat on him.
Imagine a main-event program with AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels in WWE? That is the type of program that could print money, but will never come to fruition.
3 Regrets Hiring: Nailz
Have you ever been so angry in the work place that you felt the need to physically assault your boss? Well, I'm sure that you may have had these feelings before, but you ultimately did not act upon them. However, there is one WWE wrestler in history that did take the opportunity to manhandle his boss when he felt that he was not receiving his due pay.
Nailz reportedly attacked Vince McMahon, leaving him with a shiny black eye as a way of expressing his frustration with his pay day in WWE. Other wrestlers heard the struggle between McMahon and Nailz and had to quickly pull their coworker off their boss. Needless to say that no one lost sleep when Naliz promptly exited the company, and it is unlikely that we will ever see him again.
2 Regrets Firing: Kazarian
Another master of the independent wrestling circuit that WWE was not able to hold on to before he was able to prove his worth as a performer, Kazarian has been a mainstay in many high profile independent wrestling promotions for many years, but did have a cup of coffee in WWE in 2005. During his time in WWE, Frankie Kazarian was a perennial member on WWE’s B-Show Velocity and competed against other lower-card talent like Scotty 2 Hotty and Funaki during his time, but disappeared from WWE quickly after realizing that the Cruiserweight division was “not a priority” for WWE at the time.
Now that Kazarian has established himself as one of the premiere Cruiserweight-style wrestlers on the independent circuit, I am certain someone was kicking themselves for not having him around while the division was being redeveloped this year.
1 Regrets Hiring: Chris Benoit
I don’t think there's a more obvious wrestler that should be at the top of this list, and for obvious reasons that do not need a deep explanation. WWE has done their best to distance themselves from any memory of Chris Benoit since learning about the last two days of his life, but given how entrenched he is in the WWE history books, it has been very difficult to erase him completely. Benoit’s WWE career spanned from 2000 until his death in 2007, which means that there are numerous matches and storylines that are excluded from ever being mentioned again.
It goes without saying that some of these matches are among the best in WWE’s history due to the wrestling abilities that Benoit possessed, so it's unfortunate that so many fans will never experience them in the same way others have before the unfortunate incidents.