Pro Wrestling

10 Incredibly Strange Stories Behind WWE Releases Source:

Over the years, a great many WWE Superstars have seen their names attached to the infamous statement “We wish them the best in their future endeavours”. Whether it’s a case of WWE clearing out the roster to make room for new talent, a desire to seek outside opportunities, or any number of other legitimate reasons, a lot of wrestlers have passed through the revolving doors of WWE, for one reason or another. Often, there isn’t much of a story behind why a certain wrestler was released from their contract, but in the following cases, WWE’s reasons for letting these Superstars go has been anywhere from callous, to questionable, to downright weird.

10. Accidental Shoplifting

One of the best wrestlers to come out of Australia, Emma made a name for herself in NXT, wrestling Paige at the very first NXT live special in a match that opened eyes to the possibility of legitimate women’s wrestling thriving in NXT (and later WWE). The match also accelerated Paige and Emma’s promotion to the main roster, but while Paige won the Divas Title on her first night on Raw, Emma was stuck in a comedy pairing with Santino Marella that didn’t really let her play to her strengths as a competent wrestler. Her disastrous first stint on Raw came to an end, however, when she was arrested in Hartford, Connecticut, for allegedly stealing an iPhone case (valued at roughly twenty dollars) that she claimed she had forgotten to pay for at a self-checkout. For her dastardly crime, Emma was given one day of community service, and also fired from WWE. However, hours later, her termination was nullified, reportedly after massive backlash forced WWE to reconsider their incredibly harsh punishment for the minor incident. It was too late to save Emma’s character, however, as she would return to NXT to re-invent herself shortly afterwards. Source:

9. Ruining The WCW Invasion

Frankly, WWE should have never hired Buff Bagwell in the first place, as stories of his bad attitude, combined with a nearly career-ending neck injury that had basically destroyed his already mediocre wrestling abilities, made him a questionable addition at best. However, when Vince McMahon was polling the audience about WCW wrestlers they’d like him to keep, Buff’s name caused teenage girls to scream loudly and allegedly earned him a contract. Apparently they thought he was hot, or something? We don’t see it, but in any event, as one of WCW’s biggest remaining names not still receiving money from Time-Warner due to a guaranteed contract, Bagwell was picked up and put into the very first WCW match to ever air on Raw, facing Booker T for the WCW World Title. To make a long story short, the match was terrible, with Bagwell being notably bad, and the fans turned on both the match and the entire concept of the new WCW (who had been portrayed as faces to the loyal WWE audience for some reason up to this point). Bagwell was fired days later, citing (to nobody’s surprise) a poor attitude, along with rumors that he had his mother actually call WWE to complain about how he was being used. Source:

8. Naked Pictures

For the ill-fated third season of NXT, back when it was a faux reality show competition instead of the developmental promotion we know today, WWE decided to switch things up and have Divas as contestants. And they had a huge ace in the hole that was guaranteed to draw viewers: Aloisia, also known as Isis the Amazon on the independent circuit, who was legitimately 6’9″ and towered over the other competitors. WWE introduced the newest “Rookies”, including Aloisia, on Raw the day before the new season was set to begin, but the next day, Aloisia was suddenly gone from the competition, replaced by Kaitlyn (who would go on to win the whole thing). Immediately afterwards, it was revealed that WWE had been made aware of some fairly tasteful, but definitely naked pictures of Aloisia on the Internet, and decided to drop her from TV, subsequently releasing her from her contract. Never mind that WWE was a company that had several Divas pose naked in Playboy, as well as employing multiple women (some of whom would even become champions in WWE) who had appeared in even racier pornographic material before signing with WWE. Source:

7. Not Handling A Break-Up Well

For a long time, Matt Hardy and Lita were one of the most nauseatingly cute real-life couples in WWE, a relationship that was no secret both behind the curtain and on-screen. However, after the couple was broken up on TV in a terrible angle involving Kane winning possession of Lita, whom he had impregnated, in a match (just…don’t ask), Matt Hardy disappeared for a few months to deal with an injury. During his rehabilitation, Hardy suddenly began acting fairly irrationally, removing all of Lita’s pictures from his personal website, and directing angry diatribes against his girlfriend. It turned out, Matt had discovered that Lita was cheating on him with Edge, and decided to make the entire matter public. WWE repeatedly told Hardy to stop airing his dirty laundry in public, as it was beginning to affect their presentation of the on-screen product (Lita was forced to turn heel due to increasingly negative crowd reactions), but he persisted, and WWE made the decision to fire him. However, the publicity from Matt’s outburst did not go away, making him into a cult hero of sorts, and WWE would re-hire him a few months later, putting him a feud with the newly united team of Edge and Lita, which he would…lose convincingly before moving to the Smackdown brand, far away from his former flame. Source:

6. Breaking Kayfabe

Way back in the ancient times known as the 80’s, the concept of kayfabe and “protecting the business” was far stronger in pro wrestling than it is in modern times, including the long-standing tradition of heels and faces not being allowed to associate in public. This led to a sticky situation for “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and the Iron Sheik, who were both arrested in 1987 after a routine traffic stop revealed that they were in possession of marijuana and cocaine. They were immediately fired, however, many wrestlers have said over the years that while the arrests were a factor in their release, Vince McMahon was just as angry at the fact that they had broken kayfabe, due to the two wrestlers actively feuding with each other on television. In fact, given the rampant drug use that was part of wrestling culture in that time period, it’s unlikely the arrest itself would have caused them many serious issues with the company. However, as the story goes, the news that an all-American face and a dastardly Iranian heel wrestler were hanging out in public was comedy gold for many journalists, and an irate McMahon decided to take drastic steps as a result. Source:

5. Attending An Impact Taping

You may remember a short-lived WWE tag team known as the Highlanders, played by a pair of Scottish wrestlers named Robbie and Rory McAllister, who were part of the Raw brand in the mid-2000’s. They weren’t the best wrestlers to ever strap on a kilt, and they never really accomplished much of note during their WWE run, but that was almost certainly due to an incredibly bad decision made by Robbie in 2008. At the time, upstart North American promotion TNA had decided to begin running their weekly Impact Wrestling show live (and briefly in direct competition with Monday Night Raw). That experiment ended up being a massive failure for TNA, but during one live episode, Robbie, who had been backstage visiting friends, was shown on camera sitting in the crowd, with TNA even displaying a chyron with his real name to highlight his presence. To say Robbie was in hot water with WWE was an understatement, especially since it was very close to WrestleMania weekend. As a result, the Highlanders were taken off TV and fired several months later. TNA didn’t escape unscathed, either, as many wrestlers were upset that the company cost Robbie his job for what amounted to a meaningless jab at WWE.;jsessionid=111CAA091897976DA12FFCA5AB9A40F7?r30_r1_r1:page=89 Source:

4. Failing To Control Ric Flair

Jim Ross is one of the greatest wrestling announcers in the history of the sport, and if you wanted to make him #1 on that list, we probably wouldn’t argue. However, he also put up with quite a lot of abuse while working in WWE, eventually taking a long hiatus from WWE TV in 2011, moving down to train announcers and do commentary for the fledgling NXT show. In late 2013, however, Ross announced his retirement from WWE, several months before his contract was set to expire. Further investigation revealed that Ross had actually been fired, after a disastrous promotional appearance centered around the roster reveal for WWE 2K14. At the event, Ric Flair was clearly intoxicated and became uncontrollable, going off on insane rants that had nothing to do with promoting WWE or the video game. Ross, who was in charge of leading the interview segment, took the blame for Flair’s antics (Flair was also fired, but would eventually return to WWE), as well as some uncomplimentary things Ross himself said about the sponsor of the entire event. However, according to Vince McMahon, the decision to leave WWE was made by Ross, who wanted to pursue other opportunities outside WWE. And when has Vince McMahon ever lied to us? Source:

3. Slapping A Racist

Alberto Del Rio was brought into WWE with plans to make him a big deal very quickly, and for the most part, they accomplished that feat, as Del Rio won multiple World titles in a very short time, cementing himself as a main event talent. However, in 2014, he was suddenly released from his contract for what WWE claimed was “unprofessional conduct”. Unfortunately for WWE, the entire sordid story quickly leaked out, painting the company in a fairly unfavorable light. It turned out, Del Rio had been released for slapping a member of WWE’s social media team, who had made several racist jokes about Mexicans in general and Del Rio specifically. WWE’s punishment of Del Rio was seen as ridiculously harsh, but rumors were that the recipient of the slap had threatened to sue, necessitating the release. Del Rio would have the last laugh, however, as he would successfully force WWE to release him from his 90-day non-compete clause, and proceed to put on great performances for both AAA in Mexico and the new Lucha Underground promotion. A year later, WWE would re-hire Del Rio to a reportedly lucrative contract. Source:

2. Wrestling On An Airplane

In 2002, the WWE roster was on a flight home from a European tour, and with several authority figures not present on the plane, things got out of hand in a very serious way. Several wrestlers became very intoxicated and grew disruptive, culminating in Curt “Mr Perfect” Hennig goading Brock Lesnar into a wrestling match in the aisles, a bout which spiralled out of control and featured the two large wrestlers slamming into the door of the plane. At that point, safety concerns became a real factor, and when the plane eventually landed, discipline was quickly handed out. Hennig shouldered most of the blame and was fired almost instantly for his role in what became dubbed the “Plane Ride From Hell”, and several other wrestlers were severely punished for their drunken antics. Following the incident, WWE began cracking down on wrestlers who behaved poorly in public, and in fact the number of reports of wrestlers doing dumb things while drunk and/or partying severely declined over the following years. Source:

1. Choking A Ring Announcer With His Tie

Yes, is what was considered the biggest over-reaction in the history of snap decisions, WWE fired Daniel Bryan a day after he made his debut on the WWE main roster, due to his actions during a segment that aired at the very end of Raw. The angle saw Bryan, as well as the other cast members of the first season of NXT, surround the ring during a John Cena-CM Punk main event, then attack both men, destroying the ring and ringside area in the process, kicking off the Nexus angle which saw the former “Rookies” attempt to assert dominance over the WWE roster. It was seen as an incredible moment and the start of a potentially great angle by the fans, but they were quickly subdued when news of Bryan’s firing was announced on the next day. During the course of the show-ending brawl, Bryan, who was a well-liked former independent star, had grabbed ring announcer Justin Roberts and began choking Roberts with his own tie. It was an impressive visual that sold the brutality of the Nexus attack, but it allegedly upset some of WWE’s sponsors, who reportedly forced WWE to fire Bryan (despite John Cena himself backing Bryan’s actions). Fortunately, Bryan earned the support of the fans due to what they saw as an incredibly unfair punishment, and he was re-hired weeks later, returning at the SummerSlam Pay Per View to massive crowd support. The rest, as they say, is history. Source:
Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.