Why did John Morrison leave the WWE?
John Morrison looked like the perfect fit for WWE. He had the look, the athleticism, a killer finisher, rising popularity and acceptable promo skills. Although he played a cocky heel for many years, by the dawn of the 2010s he was firmly entrenched as a babyface. It looked like his stock was only going to rise in WWE.
So what went wrong?
Tag team career
The man known as John Morrison was once known as Johnny Nitro and was a tag team wrestler on SmackDown. As one-third of the stable ‘MNM’, Nitro was an obnoxious ‘pretty boy heel’ that was meant to elicit feelings of jealousy out of the fans. After all, he had an outstanding physique and was shown to live a lifestyle that most fans could only dream of.
After MNM split, the newly-rechristened John Morrison became a regular on ECW and then RAW, as part of a tag team with the Miz. He was still an obnoxious heel that was slowly carving out his own identity, but still lacked the promo skills of a top guy. That is why he was with the Miz, who was a solid speaker even back then.
Split and singles run
After Morrison and the Miz parted ways, Morrison became a singles star that flirted with the main event scene throughout 2009, 2010 and part of 2011. Based on all of his assets and his impressive parkour-inspired athleticism, Morrison was pushed as a babyface on RAW once the ECW brand folded.
He did win the Intercontinental Championship on three occasions and even challenged for the WWE Championship on one occasion. However, by November 2011, he was gone from the promotion, seemingly out of nowhere.
Final controversies and departure
In 2015, the now-renamed Johnny Mundo spoke on the Stone Cold Podcast and revealed the reason why he left WWE. He disclosed that WWE wanted him to sign a new contract, but he “wanted more control over his time” and wanted to heal some injuries that he had suffered throughout his career.
However, rumors and fan theories that circulated in 2011 provided other possible reasons why Morrison left.
Many fans were well aware that Morrison and Melina were a couple, and the latter was notorious for being a ‘Diva’ in the literal sense of the term. She was said to have a difficult backstage attitude and irritated many of her colleagues, both male and female. Unfortunately, negative perceptions about her eventually rubbed off on Morrison.
Stories circulated that Melina was the one in charge in their relationship, and she prevented him from doing things with the other male wrestlers, such as going to bars and having fun outside of the confines of WWE.
Because of this, he was perceived as weak and ‘whipped’ by Melina, which weakened his perception as a man in the eyes of many backstages. Then there were the allegations that Melina cheated on Morrison with other men in the WWE locker room (such as Batista) and that Morrison knew about this and didn’t want to stand up to someone like Batista out of fear of losing his spot in WWE.
It was said that Vince McMahon became aware of this hesitance on Morrison’s part to even confront Batista about something that was said to be common knowledge in the WWE locker room. Once Vince learned that Morrison wasn’t willing to stand up for himself, Vince saw him as a weakling and ‘not a real man’, and thus not worthy of being a top guy.
(At the opposite end of the spectrum, for example, Booker T fought Batista over the latter’s comments at one time and won, which impressed Vince enough for Booker to get booked to win the World Heavyweight Championship. This was because Vince values genuine natural toughness and courage, which were things that he didn’t think John Morrison possessed).
Finally, there was the controversy surrounding WrestleMania XXVII. For those that don’t remember, John Morrison teamed with Jersey Shore’s Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi and Trish Stratus against the team of Dolph Ziggler, Michelle McCool, and Layla.
There were widespread reports that Morrison was upset that his girlfriend Melina was not in that match but Trish Stratus was, and his complaints were interpreted as disrespect towards Trish, who was – and still is – regarded as a legend in WWE for her contributions to women’s wrestling. Add to this a moment in the post-match whereby Morrison ‘snubbed’ Trish by refusing to celebrate with her and you have a guy who was likely to have nuclear heat with people backstage.
Life after WWE
Ultimately, Morrison was let go by WWE in late 2011 and hasn’t been in any major discussions for a return to WWE since. He has spent a considerable amount of time wrestling on the independent scene and in promotions like Lucha Underground and Impact Wrestling. He has achieved quite a bit of success on the independent scene since then, having won numerous titles in various indy promotions here and there.
The question of whether Morrison will return to WWE has been on some people’s lips for some time. He has grown as a star, had great matches on the independent scene, and is still in good shape physically as a wrestler.
At this point, however, one shouldn’t expect Morrison to return to WWE. He appears to be comfortable wrestling in smaller promotions and having more control over his schedule, which is very important to Morrison given that WWE’s taxing schedule was one of the main reasons for his departure (at least according to him).
There is also the growing trend of former WWE guys living comfortable lifestyles outside of WWE and making solid money as independent wrestlers, which means that one doesn’t have to work solely for WWE to make money in the wrestling business.