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10 WWE superstars who went from being fired to icons

Renjith Ravindran
Steve Austin

Getting fired from your job is not an encouraging thing. But if one gets through the tough phase and makes a name afterwards, and then the story is worthy of a place in the history books. In short, the moral is: recovering from falls is probably the best trait of a legend.

It is turnarounds like this which separates the ordinary wrestlers from icons in the business. As you would have guessed already, this is the theme of this list. So without much suspense, here is a look at some of those iconic superstars that overcame setbacks of getting fired to become legendary names in the business.

Brian Pillman

Brian Pillman

Brian Pillman is the benchmark for all the crazy gimmicks out there including the current one of Dean Ambrose. Pillman was known for his incredible in-ring phycology and unpredictability. He was so good at it that he even confused his fellow wrestlers as most of them assumed that he was really crazy.

However, before Pillman became an icon in the business, he was fired by Eric Bischoff. Bischoff claimed that releasing Pillman was a business strategy. But there were rumors of legitimate heat between the two.

Pillman went on to have a successful career in WWE. He ended up giving us some memorable segments before his eventual death. The legendary status of Pillman would have been much bigger if he hadn’t passed away so early.

Daniel Bryan

Daniel Bryan

A lot of people might not agree with the inclusion of Daniel Bryan under the ‘icon’ tag. But then again, if we look back, he was one of the most over superstars in the PG era before he was captured by the claws of injury. The guy still has a big fan base and has insane wrestling skills to go with it.

The firing incident of Bryan came back during his Nexus day. Bryan and his band made their debut on Raw and started tearing everything apart.

Bryan, trying to be a good heel, choked announcer Justin Roberts with a tie, which apparently proved to be a big problem in WWE. The PG Era sponsors did not like this and WWE was forced to fire Bryan. The flying goat was resigned months later. Bryan made an entirely different legacy in his new run and ended up being successful.

Goldust

Goldust

Goldust is currently off television due to the injury he picked up. He is one of those rare breeds of superstar who proved that age is just a number. Goldust was a mainstay in the Attitude Era as well. Before all of this, he was at the receiving end of a firing.

The incident happened back during his WCW days. WCW was having a corporate policy of not having blade jobs in the company. So when Goldust broke the rule in 1995 uncensored pay-per-view, WCW had no other option than firing him. Goldust soon landed in WWE and became one of the backbones of the Attitude Era.

Ric Flair

Ric Flair

Ric Flair was a big star even before the rise of WCW and WWE. His run as the NWA Heavyweight champion earned him a lot of praise in the wrestling business. WCW, however, did something that no one saw coming. The company fired Flair. He joined WCW back in 1986 and five years later after a dispute with WCW president Jim Herd, Flair got his marching orders.

To make matters worse, Flair was the reigning WCW Champion while he was fired. The Nature boy then joined WWE and had a lot of iconic matches there before returning to WCW again. Flair stamped his legendary status despite the firing and earned a place in the list.

Bruiser Brody

Bruiser Brody

A majority of the modern era fans will not be familiar with Bruiser Brody. He was considered to be one of the greatest brawlers in the business. Brody’s career came to an abrupt end when he was stabbed to death in the locker room by a promoter. Despite the untimely death, Brody is still among the list of greatest wrestlers.

Brody is known for his time in the United States. Before his run in US, Brody had a tryout in New Japan Pro Wrestling. The company, however, fired Brody which in turn drove him back to the US. The firing in Japan did not cool down his momentum as Brody went from one height to another before his eventual death.

Mick Foley

Mick Foley

Mick Foley’s departure from WCW was a mixture of firing and a mutual termination. If it wasn’t, then Mick would have been further up the list. Foley started off his wrestling career with a dream of making it into the WWE. It was WCW that came knocking at his doors first so Mick accepted the offer.

His WCW career started off with a bang, but soon the momentum cooled off. Foley was sent to ECW for some time where he spat on the WCW belt and got legitimate heat from WCW. This incident made Ric Flair agree to release Mick. A release was what Mick also wanted as he did not like his direction in WCW.

After his bridges with WCW were burnt, Foley went on to have an iconic run. This includes his legendary promos in ECW and the Attitude Era run in WWE.

Roddy Piper

Roddy Piper

Vince McMahon’s decision to break the territory rules was what changed the wrestling business. Piper was one of the superstars who was jumping across the territories. Vince, however, changed this and signed Piper to WWE and made a star out of him.

One of the reasons for Piper agreeing the deal with WWE was his grudge with the Georgia territory. Piper was fired and blackballed from the territory. The firing was because of him turning up late for a match. Once in WWE, Piper proved to be a crucial figure for the company in ending the whole territory system. The territory that blackballed him eventually died out due to the company he worked for.

Paul Heyman

Paul Heyman

WCW has pissed off a lot of people during their tenure. Paul Heyman is the second worst name in that list. Heyman had a memorable run with the Dangerous Alliance back in WCW before Bill Watts fired Heyman. The reason for the firing was falsifying expense reports, but the claims were not proven.

An angry Heyman soon joined ECW and became hell bound in running WCW out of business. He was not able to do the same with ECW, but he helped WWE in doing so. WWE took up the Attitude Era style of ECW and won the Monday Night Wars. And Heyman, he went on to become one of the legendary managers of his time.

Shawn Michaels

Shawn Michaels

It is a bit hard to digest, but Shawn Michaels was fired by WWE. The incident happened in the early days of his WWE run. He made his debut alongside Marty Jannetty but after just two weeks, the duo was fired. An incident in the bar was the reason for this but according to Michaels it was just a misunderstanding.

A year later, WWE would resign Michaels and Jannetty. They had a brief run as the Rockers before Michaels infamously turned on his partner.

The Heart Break Kid gimmick followed and within no time Michaels was one of the top guns in the wrestling business. If Michaels had given up after WWE fired him, we wouldn’t have had all those legendary matches in the archives now.

Stone Cold Steve Austin

Steve Austin

If you recall, I mentioned Paul Heyman as the second worst superstar that WCW pissed off. The reason for this is Steve Austin. He was one of the major reasons for WCW’s death and if you haven't guessed it already, Austin was fired by WCW.

Eric Bischoff fired Austin from WCW saying that Austin was not marketable. Bischoff did it through the phone which future angered Austin. He took shots at WCW at every turn he had afterwards. After a short stint in ECW, Austin jumped to WWE and kick-started the attitude Era. The iconic star then started delivering deadly blows to WCW. And just like that, Austin had his revenge.

Edited by Staff Editor

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