3 times top stars walked out of WWE RAW
WWE RAW is known for having a constantly changing show, with multiple rewrites taking place every Monday. At least that's the deal whenever Vince McMahon is around.
Considering how adjusted that team is to chaos, it leads to some interesting segments when something goes wrong backstage. A few times now, we've seen WWE Superstars call it quits hours before the Red Brand airs. Anytime that's happened, Vince and company have let the fans know where they stand.
Today we'll be looking at three times Superstars have walked out on WWE RAW and how WWE handled the situation on air.
#3 CM Punk: WWE RAW January 27, 2014
Until last year, the most recent example of a top star leaving WWE RAW was former WWE Champion CM Punk. The Voice of the Voiceless was set to kick up a feud with Triple H, leading to a match at WrestleMania XXX. However, after mounting injuries, along with frustrations with booking, Punk walked out the door on January 27th before WWE RAW aired.
It was quite a shocking move by Punk, as this was one night after his stellar Royal Rumble performance, where he entered at #1 and lasted for nearly fifty minutes before being eliminated by Kane. Unlike the other two spots on this list, WWE made no mention of Punk or the situation, leaving fans in the dark.
The only public action WWE took around that time was unfollowing the self-proclaimed Best in the World on Twitter. Aside from a moment in March of that year when Paul Heyman came out to Cult of Personality, WWE would omit CM Punk from broadcasts, lists, and stats for years before he joined WWE Backstage in 2019.
In a now infamous edition of Colt Cabana's Art of Wrestling podcast, CM Punk aired his grievances with the promotion, citing poor medical care from WWE doctor Chris Amaan as one of many legitimate gripes. According to Punk, a large lump on his back that Amaan refused to treat was diagnosed as a staph infection that nearly killed him.
CM Punk recently appeared backstage at WWE RAW, meeting with Bobby Lashley, The Miz, and even Triple H. Reportedly, Vince McMahon made the call to have Punk escorted out of the building by the head of security.
#2 Sasha Banks & Naomi: WWE RAW May 16, 2022
Trinity Fatu, formerly WWE's Naomi, made her IMPACT Wrestling debut last weekend during a set of tapings in Chicago. This comes almost a year after she and tag team partner Mercedes Moné, then Sasha Banks, walked out of WWE RAW back on May 16, 2022.
At that point, the duo were holding the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship. Since the return of the belts in 2019, fans and detractors alike have been critical of their use on TV. It turns out that Sasha Banks and Naomi felt the same way, as they reportedly walked into WWE Head of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis's office and dropped the titles on his desk.
Mounting frustrations with the direction of the division forced the hands of the two. They were set to compete in the main event of WWE RAW, facing each other and several other women for a shot at the RAW Women's Championship. Banks and Naomi felt that the WWE Women's Tag Team Titles were treated poorly despite their work to elevate the belts and division on a weekly basis.
The company decided to directly address the situation, with Michael Cole stating on SmackDown that they "let us all down" before revealing the team was suspended indefinitely. The tournament was announced to crown new champions but didn't take place until August. The delay further fueled the fire regarding WWE's failure with the belts at the time.
While Naomi now works at IMPACT Wrestling, Sasha Banks is working with NJPW where she's already a one-time IWGP Women's Champion.
#1 Stone Cold Steve Austin: WWE RAW June 10, 2002
The day Stone Cold Steve Austin left WWE was essentially the beginning of the end of an era. The Rock was wrapping things up and would soon drop the WWE Championship to an up-and-coming rookie by the name of Brock Lesnar. The two greatest WWE Superstars of the Attitude Era, possibly in the company's history, stepped away in the same year.
Lesnar's run to the top was supposed to include a first-round victory in the King of the Ring Tournament over Austin on June 10, 2002, a booking decision that led to The Rattlesnake refusing to return. Add to that mounting medical issues, and Austin's frustration led to the biggest public break-up in WWE history. This was not the first episode of WWE RAW that Steve Austin no-showed as he began skipping dates on the RAW after WrestleMania, claiming that he was burnt out.
In a now infamous promo from Vince McMahon on Jun 17, 2002, the Chairman appeared on WWE RAW to address the "Stone Cold situation." McMahon stated that Steve Austin was really gone and that he had a lot of apologizing and explaining to do before he could return.
McMahon said Austin owed an apology to the WWE Superstars and the fans for walking away from all of them, but ultimately thanked him for everything he'd done for the promotion before leaving a beer in the middle of the ring.
Stone Cold Steve Austin wasn't upset at the idea of losing to Brock Lesnar, but that they were giving that match away on free TV. At that point in his career, beating Steve Austin should've meant something, and he felt it was a PPV-caliber match. Jim Ross would reach out to Austin several months later, helping him mend fences with McMahon before returning for a run as GM of RAW.
Austin has had a great working relationship with the promotion since then, appearing for many special one-offs and even wrestling in his first match in nearly two decades against Kevin Owens last year. The way that situation worked out, it wouldn't be too surprising to see Sasha Banks, Naomi, or even CM Punk back in a WWE ring one day.