5 WWE Superstars who were controversially fired and the reasons why
WWE releases and firings can occur at any time. Sometimes when a wrestler or official is terminated, those reasons can be clear-cut and legitimate (budget cuts, mutual release between the company & superstar).
However, there are times when a release can be clouded in controversy. These releases have happened on numerous occasions over the years in the company and will likely happen again at some point down the road.
But in the meantime, let’s look at five WWE Superstars who were controversially fired and the reasons why.
#5. Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson)
Daniel Bryan made his way to WWE as part of the ill-fated “reality show version” of the NXT brand in 2010. Coming off his tenure with Ring of Honor (ROH), wrestling fans had high hopes that he was going to make a big splash in the company.
In the long term, Daniel Bryan became one of the top stars in the company, but he had a very rough beginning. In 2010, he was penciled in to be a huge part of “The Nexus” storyline, a group of individuals from the NXT brand looking to “invade” the WWE main roster, specifically with John Cena in mind.
During the initial segment that featured The Nexus taking over RAW, Daniel Bryan attacked ring announcer Justin Roberts and choked him out with his tie. This angered WWE's sponsors, giving the company no choice but to fire Daniel Bryan immediately.
Once the situation cooled down, WWE rehired him a few months later.
#4. Mr. Kennedy
Mr. Kennedy was a star on the rise in WWE in 2007. The company had high hopes that he was going to be one of their next big stars in the organization.
Unfortunately, it was not meant to be as Kennedy’s career was hampered by injuries. He won the 2007 Money in the Bank contract, but ultimately had to forfeit the contract due to injury.
Kennedy would never regain his momentum and was ultimately fired in 2009. John Cena and Randy Orton voiced their displeasure with Kennedy, saying that he was unsafe to work with.
Kennedy would find success in TNA Wrestling (IMPACT Wrestling) in 2010 but would never return to the company.
#3. WWE's "Ninth Wonder of the World" - Chyna
Chyna became one of the most important stars of the Attitude Era. Her looks and physical prowess made her a unique superstar in the company that stood out amongst the rest of the divas. She became the first female to win the Intercontinental Championship and had a run as Women’s Champion in early 2001.
Outside the ring, she had a relationship with Triple H. Once that relationship ended rather abruptly in the early 2000s after “The Game” began dating Stephanie McMahon in real life, Chyna’s career completely fell apart.
Due to the animosity between Chyna, Triple H, and Stephanie, WWE didn’t renegotiate her contract and allowed her to be released from the company.
Chyna passed away in 2016 due to an accidental drug overdose. She would later be inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of D-Generation X.
Finlay was one of the better mid-card performers for WCW and WWE. He became one of the most beloved and well-known producers of all time due to his reputation backstage.
Finlay produced a segment for a 2011 WWE Live Event that would have The Miz interrupt the singing of the National Anthem. While the idea was to garner some heat for The Miz, Vince McMahon was very upset by it. The angle also offended members of the US National Guard who were in attendance.
Vince would eventually rehire Finlay back to his role once the situation blew over, since he was well-liked in the role and the angle was seen as an honest lack of judgment on his part.
#1. Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio became a main eventer in quick fashion between 2010 and 2011. He was the winner of the first (and only) 40-man Royal Rumble match in 2011 and would later become the WWE Champion. He wrestled Edge at WrestleMania XXVII in what was (originally) Edge’s retirement match.
Del Rio was controversially fired for slapping a backstage employee for making an insensitive racial slur against him in late 2011. Del Rio would later be rehired by the company and started off strong with a clean victory over John Cena in 2012.
He would go on to capture the United States Championship, but couldn’t quite capture the same magic he had before. Del Rio was released yet again, in controversial fashion, after he violated the company's wellness policy.