When it comes to difficult careers, there might not be one out there that is tougher than being a professional wrestler. Not only do you put your body through an incredible physical toll, but the job can also wreak havoc on your personal life. Many wrestlers battle addictions, commit affairs, or find themselves fired and out of a job before they know what hit them. Not to mention it’s a profession in which, if you burn your bridges behind you, you may not find yourself working any time soon.
Every wrestler on this list has been fired by at least one major wrestling organization, and their reasons are as varied as they are entertaining. In some cases, such as Jeff Hardy, they’ve been through the ringer, but still always managed to find a job.
One thing is for sure, the more you read the list, the more you will realize that if there is one person you do not want to cross, it’s Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Many of these wrestlers were kicked out of the WWF, or left the WWF to go and join the WCW (but we all know how that turned out). While some of the names on this list were able to patch up their differences, you’ll find that many have not been so lucky.
Some names also appear on this list partially due to their reckless behavior in the ring. Wrestling is not a joke, and the last thing you want is to be wrestling with someone who you cannot trust, like the former WWE ‘star’, Juventud Guerrera. You also may know parts of the story as to why people are on this list, such as CM Punk’s departure from the WWE, but do you know what day it was when he found out he was fired? You’re about to.
Put it all together and you have some fantastic stories about 18 wrestlers who have been banned or fired from of at least one wrestling federation, at least once in their career.
18. Jeff Jarret
It is one thing to get fired, it is another to get fired for real on television. Vince McMahon bought WCW and on March 26, 2001 and announced that he now had power over the WCW roster. This had a very negative impact on Jeff Jarrett, who allegedly tried to blackmail the company before his eventual departure to WCW.
Jarrett was the Intercontinental Champion, and his contract expired the Friday before a Sunday PPV. Had Vince not paid Jarrrett an exuberant amount of money, he ran the risk of Jarrett going on WCW television and trashing the belt. Chyna (who was Jarret’s opponent) has come out and stated that she feels Jarret extorted the company for over $300,000.
Vince stated that while Jeff spells his name J-E-Double-F, he can now spell it CAPITAL-G-O-N-E… GONE.
17. Jeff Hardy
The Hardy Boyz are one of the greatest tag teams of all time, but that just makes Jeff’s fall from grace sadder. In 2003, Jeff was working on a singles career but was fired on April 22nd of that year. The WWE cited deteriorating ring skills, drug abuse, and refusal to go to rehab as being part of the reasons for Hardy’s departure from the company. Hardy wrestled for ROH and TNA after his departure from the WWE, but was unable to clean up his act. Hardy was fired by the TNA for failing no-showing several events.
Leaving TNA allowed Hardy to return to the WWE from 2006-2009, before he left, requiring neck surgery, as well as having two herniated disks. Hardy returned to TNA, but hit his low point in 2011. During a PPV match for the World Heavyweight Title, Hardy arrived to the arena and was too intoxicated to do any type of significant wrestling. As a result, Hardy lost the match in the first 90 seconds.
While he has since rebounded in TNA, his actions during the PPV caused Hardy to, yet again, be suspended by the company. He might not be banned from wrestling, but he certainly knows how to wear out a welcome!
16. Brian Pillman
In 1996, while wrestling for WCW, Brian Pillman decided that he wanted to create a ‘loose cannon’ gimmick to go alongside his character. Well, nothing says loose cannon like hopping on the mic during an ‘I Respect’ (think an ‘I Quit’ match) match with Kevin Sullivan, only to call Sullivan ‘booker man’, which indicated Sullivan’s backstage power at influencing match results. The words booker man were cut from the tape, and Pillman was ‘fired’ by Eric Bischoff and the WCW.
Bischoff states that he fired Pillman with the intention of having Pillman return to WCW a few months later, but with much more heat. Unfortunately for Bischoff, Pillman decided to not honor the deal.
Pillman was ‘fired’ in February 1996, and by June 10th he was announced as one of the new major hires by the WWF. Pillman wasn’t exactly ‘banned’ from the WCW, but something tells me him and Bischoff probably weren’t the best of friends after that move.
15. Stacy ‘The Kat’ Carter
One thing that you always need to be careful about is mixing business with pleasure. Jerry Lawler found that out the hard way when his wife was hired by the WWF. Stacy Carter became no stranger to being in front of the cameras, but was also an incredibly difficult person to deal with when the cameras were off.
Allegedly, Stacy felt that because her husband was a legend with the company (and the current color commentator), she deserved to be the top shot at the company. You can imagine her shock when she was fired in 2001, after the WWF decided her attitude and ego were only going to get worse with time.
Lawler also left the company at this time, but after him and Kat separated in July, Lawler returned to the announcing table later that year.
14. Chris Benoit
Chris Benoit was one of the most talented wrestlers of all time. Not only did Benoit win multiple championships during his time in the WWE, but he was one of the most respected wrestlers backstage. Unfortunately, Chris is also the biggest example of the WWE distancing themselves from a former wrestler. It is easy to see why.
For those unaware, Benoit killed his wife, his son and then committed suicide. The attacks were a black mark on the sport, and led to all former Benoit merchandise and matches being ignored. Benoit’s name is not mentioned on air, and if you watch some of his old matches, the WWE has gone in and put a discretionary warning stating that they did not condone Benoit’s actions.
Hard to argue with that.
13. The Ultimate Warrior
The Ultimate Warrior did not end his life on bad terms with the WWE. In fact, the night before his death, Warrior was apart of an episode of Monday Night Raw, during which he opened up about some of his past downfalls. One of them being that he held the company for ransom in 1991.
Warrior wrote a letter to McMahon demanding that his travel accommodations be covered by the company. He also wanted more royalties, less working days and to be given upwards of $500,000 for WrestleMania VII. Warrior then stated that if he did not receive these demands, he would refuse to show up. Given that he was booked for SummerSlam, you can see why Vince was in a predicament.
To get around Warrior’s demands, Vince “agreed” but never actually signed off on any of Warrior’s demands. After he appeared at SummerSlam, the Ultimate Warrior was promptly suspended by the WWF.
12. Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle is one of the most technically sound wrestlers of all time, not to mention he’s amazing on the mic. It is easy to see why the WWE fanbase fell in love with him, but unfortunately behind the scenes Angle had some issues. First and foremost may have been his addiction to painkillers and his refusal to slow down his workload to let his body rest.
At the time of his release, McMahon stated, “Kurt has some issues he has to face, as we all do from time to time. We all have our demons, and as human beings, it is important for us to overcome them and become better human beings, athletes and business people.”
One thing that may not make his return to the WWE smoother is the fact that Angle then went onto compete as a main eventer for TNA, which is hardly the rest that the doctors and the WWE felt his body needed.
11. Juventud Guerrera
Here’s a nice piece of advice: if you are going to be trying to make a name for yourself in the WWE, you may want to check your ego at the door. Guerrera failed to heed this warning, and often compared himself to The Rock. His arrogance and poor ring work got him bounced from the company within his first year. When Guerrera debuted in the WWE, he badly botched a 450 Splash during the match, and the move was promptly banned for being too dangerous. That didn’t stop Guerrera from trying out the move again in a match against Kid Kash. The WWE had seen enough. Guerrera was fired and the move was never aired on television.
10. Teddy Hart
Teddy Hart might come from a legendary wrestling family, but that didn’t exactly guarantee that he would be any good in the ring. While he was the youngest superstar signed in WWE history, that was the last of his accomplishments as he was fired for attitude problems. Teddy then went to try his luck in ROH, but after one match involving a steel cage, Teddy decided to stop selling the moves. Instead, he climbed to the top of the cage and did a Double Moonsault to the floor. Hart repeated this two more times, before throwing up.
This earned the scorn of people backstage, including CM Punk, who stated, “This business is dangerous enough. We, the boys, risk our lives enough. We don’t need a kid like you putting any of us in harm’s way more than we already are.” Hart was kicked out of ROH and literally thrown from the building following the event. While Hart has bounced around a few wrestling promotions, including another stint in the WWE, he is currently wrestling on the independent circuit.
9. Ricardo Rodriguez
Ricardo may have made a name for himself by announcing Albert Del Rio, but don’t expect him to be on TV anytime soon. Rodriguez was written off of TV following Del Rio winning the title due to a June 2013 suspension. He returned for one night, and then was kept off TV until he returned with RVD. The partnership failed to win over audiences, and Ricardo was fired by the company by the middle of 2014. I cannot imagine what a ring announcer needed performance enhancing drugs for… Maybe they were supposed to make his voice sound more powerful? Though, he had plenty of time to hang out with Alberto because #8 is…
8. Alberto Del Rio
Well, you know what they say Alberto, if you hang around with a bad crowd… Though something tells me Alberto was a little more missed than Ricardo. Del Rio won 4 World Titles in 5 years with the company, but he was fired after he struck an employee backstage.
Del Rio was furious, stating, “I got fired because I stand up for myself against a (expletive) racist (expletive).” Whoa…
While Del Rio was able to find wrestling work in other companies (such as ROH), it was hardly the career path that he thought was going to be set out for him after his incredible start in the company. He has since reappeared in WWE, so let’s hope Del Rio keeps the use of his fists limited to inside a ring.
7. Curt Hennig
Curt is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, but the end of his career with the WWE is arguably more intriguing than anything else he accomplished. On May 5th, 2002, Hennig was on a long flight and was reportedly inebriated, when he started to pick on Brock Lesnar. Hennig continued to goad Lesnar, asking who he thought the better amateur wrestler was. The altercation hit its peak when the two men scuffled in the hall of the plane and had to be separated by Triple H, Paul Heyman and Dave Finley.
Hennig’s involvement in the incident led to his immediate departure from the company. Unfortunately, Hennig was found dead later that year, suffering from an overdose as a result of cocaine, steroids and painkiller abuse.
If you are going to publicly go after the WWF, might as well do it the way Debrah Miceli did. In 1995, she was released from the WWF, despite still being the Woman’s Champion. The WWF did not apparently fight hard to get the belt back, because the next time we saw it, Medusa was trashing it (literally) on an episode of WCW. Not only did Medusa not make another appearance in the WWF, but they decided to deactivate the title and keep it vacant until 1998.
Thankfully, they were able to patch things up, even if she never returned to a WWF ring. She was still inducted to the WWF Hall of Fame. During the ceremony, a trash can was wheeled onstage, from which she withdrew the belt and placed it proudly on her shoulder. Hardly banned from wrestling, but there was definitely some awkward tension for a good long while between the WWF and Miceli.
5. Lex Luger
Lex had the physical body type to make it in wrestling, but that was unfortunately where his talent seemed to stop. Despite being given a push in 1993 and 1994, Luger was never able to capture a title in the WWF. That may be why he decided to leave the company and appeared on the first ever episode of WCW Monday Nitro. The decision stunned fans, and most importantly, Vince. Apparently, Lex had promised Vince that he was going to resign with the company, but double-crossed him when an offer to join the WCW came around. Talk about a great way to burn your bridges with the company.
4. Hulk Hogan
If you were growing up and watching wrestling when Hulk was active, he was essentially the closest thing you were going to find to a superhero. This makes it all the more unfortunate that he is not currently on great terms with the company. Hogan was caught using offensive language in a video that was released by the National Enquirer and Radar Online. Hogan stated how he would be disgusted if his daughter dated a black person, constantly used the N-word and admitted that he was being a little racist.
After the scandal broke, the WWE removed all signs of Hogan on the website, including his Hall of Fame entry and his position as a judge on the Tough Enough show. While Paul Levesque (Triple H) is open to the possibility of Hogan returning, nothing has occurred as of now to suggest that will happen.
3. CM Punk
There is no doubt that the WWE thought CM Punk was talented. In his 7-year career with the WWE, he won the World Championship 5 times, including one stint of over 430 days. He also won Money in the Bank twice. So you can imagine that when he left, fans were shocked and wanted to know why. Allegedly, after CM Punk got into a heated conversation with Vince, in which he inferred that the working environment was toxic, Vince decided that Punk’s ego was too big to stay in the WWE.
Fans should not expect Punk back any time soon, especially considering the fact that he received his termination papers from the company on the day of his wedding.
2. Bret Hart
Did you know that Bret Hart used to have some animosity towards the WWE? I know, shocking! Apparently, over some kind of screw job incident. Sounds pretty dramatic to me.
Bret had a falling out with the company that lasted years, with bitterness emerging from both ends, including Vince’s classic statement: “Bret screwed Bret.” The event occurred when Bret was leaving the company for the WCW, but did not want to concede the title belt to Shawn Michaels. The WWE had other plans.
Fortunately, Bret, Shawn and the WWE have been able to patch things up in recent years. It’s a great thing to see, especially when it is undeniable that Bret Hart is one of the most talented wrestlers to ever step through the ropes.
1. Kevin Wacholz
You could make the argument that some of the wrestlers on this list were not deserving of being fired. You are not going to be able to make that argument with Kevin Wacholz. Wachloz debuted in 1992 and portrayed the character of Nailz, who was an escaped convict. Unfortunately for Kevin, he got released from the company after he physically attacked Vince McMahon in his office. Apparently, Kevin was not happy with his monetary payouts, and decided that it would be a great idea to attack Vince, throw him across a desk and then try to choke him out.
Wacholz was subsequently fired (duh!) and spent years in court trying to sue the WWF over wrongful termination. There isn’t a wrestler out there that is powerful enough to attack Vince McMahon and get away with it.