6 WWE Superstars you didn't know had been fired
There have been a lot of WWE releases over the years: whether that's down to budget cuts or because WWE decided to move in a different direction, one thing that rings true is that the wrestling grind will always continue.
Over the years, the company has proved that there are no stars bigger than the company. Regardless of whether it's CM Punk walking away in 2014, or John Cena pursuing Hollywood projects in 2018, WWE has been able to move forward without them.
This means that regardless of how big a star you become in the eyes of the WWE Universe, you're never truly safe from an axe that can be dropped at any time. While many stars have quit or been released over the years, here are some big names that were fired by the company and the reasons why.
#6 WWE's Queen: Zelina Vega
Zelina Vega's release did not make much sense for the fans. Vega was riding high as the manager of Andrade, Angel Garza, and Austin Theory, creating one of the most entertaining factions of the pandemic era. However, her open criticism of WWE's decision to ban its talent from using third-party platforms led to her release in November 2020.
She returned to the company in July 2021, having been announced as a participant in the year's Money in the Bank ladder match. While she didn't win the briefcase, she won the first-ever Queen's crown and the Women's Tag Team Championship following her return.
#5 Mickie James
Mickie James is a former six-time WWE Women's Champion and was once considered to be the future of the Women's Division. James and Melina led the division until Mickie's release from the company back in 2010. There was a lot of controversy surrounding James' release. But a report from WrestlingInc confirmed that the former champion was fired from the company after a number of issues on their European Tours.
James reportedly arrived late for the bus a number of times and held up the company's travel schedule, which was off the back of a number of issues regarding her in-ring performances as well.
James is currently working with IMPACT Wrestling, with multiple reigns as the Knockouts Champion.
#4 Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan, alongside WWE Hall of Famer Edge, is one of the company's greatest return stories. In 2016, Bryan retired from the ring due to a number of issues when it came to his neck, and somehow he was able to be cleared to compete just two years later.
Bryan is a former world champion and has been able to win over the hearts of fans. But even before he was able to push himself into the spotlight in Vince McMahon's promotion, he was fired. Bryan debuted back in 2010 as part of The Nexus and on his very first night on the main roster, a fatal mistake led to the company firing him.
Bryan was spotted on camera attacking ring announcer Justin Roberts with a tie. Bryan was seemingly choking the star, something that wasn't considered PG. This was enough for the former world champion to be given his marching orders from WWE, only for the WWE Universe to then protest the release.
Merely months later, Bryan was able to make his return at SummerSlam, where he stepped into a much bigger storyline with The Miz.
#3 Paul London
Paul London was once seen as one of the hottest prospects in the Cruiserweight Division, but he will perhaps be better remembered as a former Tag Team Champion alongside Brian Kendrick.
The two stars were popular throughout 2005 and 2006, where they would have some impressive matches against MNM. This didn't save London from the axe, though, when he was seen backstage smiling at Vince McMahon as he was about to head out the back door and into an exploding limo.
London himself opened up about that night during an appearance on The Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling:
"I'm just standing here man, whatever happens, I'm the village idiot. It clearly wasn't me. Whatever is going on here it is not me clearly. So if you are going to kill somebody don't kill the guy smiling, I'm just the idiot standing here smiling. That was my motivation. That was my mindset. It wasn't this is so stupid and I'm going to laugh so I can wink at my friends back home and let them know I'm too cool for this."
Back in 2007, WWE decided that there would be a storyline where Vince would be blown up. As the Chairman made his way out to the car backstage, the former Tag Team Champion was seen smiling. This led many to believe that London was behind the murder attempt. In fact, London wasn't supposed to smile as part of the segment, and in the end, he was fired for making the mistake.
#2 Big Cass
After the release of Enzo Amore in early 2018, it appeared that Big Cass had a number of issues working in the company without his long-time friend. Despite not being able to win a championship in his career, Cass was still someone that WWE expected big things of, given his size and ability. Cass was unable to live up to the hype that surrounded him, and unsurprisingly just months after Amore was fired, Cass followed suit.
According to Sports Illustrated, a number of factors contributed to his release, which included going off script on a live episode of RAW, “being intoxicated in public” as well as reportedly breaking down the bathroom door on a tour bus.
The final straw came in the form of Cass going off-script on the May 1, 2018, edition of SmackDown, which saw Cass beating a little man impersonating Daniel Bryan.
#1 Matt Hardy
Matt Hardy is currently part of the AEW roster after a brief two-year stint in WWE, where he was looking to bring his "Broken" character. Hardy had worldwide success with the character that developed in Impact Wrestling; but was unable to have the same kind of impact in WWE.
This, of course, wasn't Hardy's first stint as part of the biggest wrestling company in the world as he joined WWE back in 1999 alongside his brother Jeff. Matt's career seemed to skyrocket a few years later, in 2005, when it was revealed that his long-time girlfriend Lita had been in more than just an on-screen partnership with Edge.
When Hardy found out about the affair, while he was recovering from a knee injury, the former champion took to the internet to vent his frustrations, which didn't go over too well. This led to an atmosphere backstage, and the company made the decision to fire Hardy to help cut the locker room tension.
This firing, much like Daniel Bryan's, didn't last very long. as the company went on to re-hire Matt two months later and allow him to be part of a feud with Edge on WWE TV.
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