WWE has had its fair share of rebels over the years. The superstars who walk into the company and have an idea of the way it should be run and hope to change it just by being there, but then they are not happy when they realise they have no control over how the company is run. As these wrestlers quickly realize though, no one superstar is bigger than the biggest wrestling company in the world.
WWE has also had its own fair share of on-screen rebels, the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, John Cena, Daniel Bryan and perhaps even Dean Ambrose could all be considered rebels who fought against the people in power in the company.
It seems power struggle storylines are the only ones that WWE are very good at telling, every era there is a new star that is forced to push against the people in power in order to get what he wants.
This story line was what pushed Daniel Bryan to the end of his career, but also it allowed him to become one of the biggest stars in the world. Wrestling needs rebels, it will always need these people to stand up and say what the WWE Universe are thinking, because without them there is no voice for the people. On-screen storylines about power struggles are a lot different then ones that happen behind the scenes though.
Some of these rebels do push it to far though, they push it to the extent where WWE can’t protect them anymore and they have to let them go. Yet the WWE is a forgiving company, and have given countless wrestlers second chances, including some rebellious individuals. This is a list of the 15 times WWE gave these rebels a second chance and in hindsight, they probably shouldn’t have.
Even though Ryback being fired was a part of a storyline, it still feels like he has a place on the list. Ryback was fired along with Erick Rowan and Dolph Ziggler when The Authority regained power on Raw thanks to Seth Rollins.
The trio were gone from TV tapings for a while before WWE decided on a plan to bring them back, but it seems Ryback hasn’t done very much since he’s returned. Sure he didn’t get fired, but when you return and your character has gone no where: what was the point?
He has even failed to thrive under Paul Heyman’s leadership before, and now his career seems to be going around in circles, is it time for him to give up?
It could be argued that Sting was never a part of WWE so technically he couldn’t make a return, but Sting was a big part of The Monday Night Wars and therefore a very big part of WWE’s Attitude Era. He then went on to have a reasonably successful career with TNA and never needed to sign for WWE, at least not until recently.
Since he has signed for the company he has failed to win any of his matches and it seems that WWE have been using him as a way to show fans that WCW is well and truly over. Sting didn’t deserve this treatment, he deserved a lot better booking and better matches. If fans would have known it would end this way for The Icon then they would never have supported his return.
13. The Dudley Boys
Bubba Ray and DVon returned to WWE following WrestleMania back in 2015, but have failed to have the impact WWE had hoped.
The former nine time Tag Team Champions deserved better booking from the company. Especially when you consider how they gave their heart and soul for during the infamous Attitude Era but it seems WWE has a short memory. Not to mention their bodies!
So far they have been unable to capture their tenth Tag Team Title in a company where there is currently more talent in their Tag Team division than there has ever been. But the WWE Universe is still questioning whether or not The Dudleys should have made a return.
12. Kevin Nash
Big Daddy Cool Diesel officially left WWE when the company refused to renew his contract in 2004; he then headed over to TNA and had a lot of success as part of The Main Event Mafia.
Kevin Nash stayed in TNA and around the Independent Circuit until 2011 when he made a surprise return at the Royal Rumble, before then entering a lasting feud with long time friend Triple H but it only proved to show just how old Nash had gotten.
Nash was signed to a legends contract and after some time off TV he returned once again at the 2014 Royal Rumble. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame the following year.
11. Alberto Del Rio
Regardless of what is thought of Alberto Del Rio, he is a talented wrestler, but he left WWE to make a point about racist behaviour that wasn’t fully addressed.
When he returned at Night of Champions he proved that he cares more about money than he does about the way WWE treats his employees. Especially when it was leaked that the only reason he returned was because WWE offered him more money.
Del Rio is currently in a group called The League of Nations and he had already had a United States Championship run, but he shouldn’t have returned to WWE under those circumstances.
10. The Great Khali
The seven foot monster was perhaps one of the most overrated superstars of the current generation. Sure he’s big, but he couldn’t deliver promos and his move-set was limited to say the least.
Khali left WWE in 2014 to pursue other career paths before it was revealed that the WWE had resigned the star to be an ambassador for The Company over in India.
Khali is still yet to return to WWE TV, but it seems WWE were happy to resign the star. Even if they did turn him into a joke by the end of his career with awful booking.
9. Scott Steiner
The Steiner brothers played a big part in the WWF tag team division in the early 90s and even managed to hold the WWF Tag Team Championships.
Steiner left WWF and joined WCW in 1996 before WWE gave him another chance and signed him back to the company in October 2002.
Steiner played a part in many feuds over the next two years, but he didn’t do anything to suggest that WWE were right in resigning him. He had already proved his worth as part of the WCW product in the 90s, but he didn’t fully deserve this second chance with the WWE.
8. Scott Hall
The current WWE Hall of Famer has had many publicly documented problems with both his health and the law over the past two decades. Despite this, Hall was one of the most popular characters in WWE and WCW in the late 90s, but he decided to leave The Kliq and head to WCW in 1996 because they offered him more days off that WWE.
He returned to WWE in 2002 to reform the NWO and feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin, but this feud was short lived and he was released later in the year after the company realized their mistake. Hall has since been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame due perhaps to his longevity in the business, but he continues to have many health problems related to his earlier drug and alcohol dependencies.
7. Ultimate Warrior
Warrior will always be remembered as the multi-coloured man who ran down the aisle to all of his matches so fast that he was out of breath before the match began, but sadly there are holes in his legacy.
Warrior fell out with WWE many times and left and returned to the company, mostly on bad terms quite often during the 1990s. He’s talented, but he was absolutely more of a headache for the WWE, who may not have been too disappointed when he finally retired from the business in 1998. His career was also marred by a suspension following an attempted blackmail against Vince McMahon for more money.
Warrior did return for a final time to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame where he belonged in 2014 before his sad passing just a few days later.
6. Marty Jannetty
Marty rose to fame in the 1990s as part of The Rockers with Shawn Michaels, but it seems that when Michaels kicked Jannetty through that barbershop window, he kicked his career through with it.
Jannetty was released from the company after amidst speculation that Jannetty has a drug problem and needed help. Michaels tried to help his long time friend and even managed to see WWE rehire him, but once again Jannetty let Michaels down and was released from the company.
Michaels continued to fight his corner to try one again to have him rehired, but Vince has stated that he is done with Janetty .
5. Jeff Hardy
Jeff Hardy is still considered one of the best high flying, risk taking superstars to ever step through WWE’s ropes, but his career was one that was polluted with drug addictions and erratic behaviour.
Hardy was released from WWE because of his drug problem but then given a second chance in 2006, when he returned to the company and climbed through the ranks to be the WWE Champion.
This still wasn’t enough for Hardy after he once again failed WWE’s Wellness Policy tests and was then released from his contract in 2009. It seems WWE have washed their hands off him completely.
The Animal was set to be a surprise entrant in the 2014 Royal Rumble, but the surprise was ruined so theWWE decided to announce him as an entrant on an episode of Raw instead. He then predictably won The Royal Rumble, was a part of WrestleMania and left the company after Evolution failed to defeat The Shield.
After becoming a sought after actor following his role in James Bond’s Spectre, he has decided that he doesn’t need to return to the WWE and given the fan reaction for him during his return, it is easy to see why he wouldn’t want to come back to the company.
3. Hulk Hogan
WWE has had a back and forth relationship with Hulk Hogan for the past two decades, but it’s understandable why they keep trying, because he is one of the biggest names to ever come out of wrestling.
Hulk walked away from WWE and began helping TNA to build as a company that could hopefully compete with the biggest company in the world, but when it failed, Hogan returned to WWE and agreed to be the host of WrestleMania 30.
This relationship lasted for a few years before historic recordings of Hogan using racist language was leaked online and once again WWE cut ties with their former World Champion.
2. Matt Hardy
Matt Hardy’s most successful time in WWE will always be considered to be when he was in a tag team with his brother Jeff Hardy.
Jeff was always thought to be the more talented brother and went on to win the WWE Championship when he was rehired in 2006, but when Matt was released following the Edge and Lita real-life love triangle, WWE rehired him hoping it would be an intensely portrayed feud.
In reality it was a feud that became very old very fast and Matt didn’t go on to do anything notable in the following years either except waste more of the company’s money.
1. CM Punk
Looking back, WWE probably wish they never resigned CM Punk in the summer of 2011, even with all he accomplished. Especially because when he left in 2014, he made sure he made the biggest exit that WWE had ever seen. Openly attacking the company and it’s work environment.
Punk was originally set to leave the company in 2011, and even walked out of Money in the Bank with the Championship after he had defeated John Cena.
Punk had already signed a new contract and returned to Raw a few weeks later with a new entrance theme and a new attitude, but after a few years he once again walked out of WWE after the 2014 Royal Rumble. Punk is talented, but that can be a dangerous thing when it led to an ego that got him bounced from the biggest wrestling company in the world.