In one way or another, almost all budding pro wrestlers dream about the day they get to work for the WWE Universe. Like him or not, Vince McMahon is the most powerful man in the business and has been for decades, with his company indeed the worldwide leader in sports entertainment just as it's long claimed. Even wrestlers who’ve retired from the ring have continued working for WWE backstage or in decreased roles, easily making McMahon number one on the list of people who make sure wrestlers are getting paid.
Of course, there's one minor catch to McMahon’s generous employment strategies in that former WWE superstars need to maintain relatively good terms with the guy if they want to stay on his pay roll. This is reasonable enough, considering most of the wrestlers we’re talking about don’t have much to offer in the ring anymore, and Vince hiring them for roles almost any retired performer could fill wouldn’t be that far off from charity. Some actually do have plenty left to offer fans, yet this hasn’t changed Vince’s mind on wrestlers who rubbed him the wrong way.
Especially in recent years, McMahon has been shockingly forgiving when dealing with some of the people who wronged him in the worst ways, so we have to admit, there’s a chance any example of this behavior offered could get swept under the rug before long. At any given moment, however, fans can rest assured that McMahon has a temporary enemies list, detailing superstars who will never work for his company again. Keep reading to learn about 15 pro wrestlers Vince McMahon wants absolutely nothing to do with (for now).
15 Scott Steiner
Once upon a time, Scott Steiner was actually one of the most respected technical wrestlers in the world. Later in life, his arms ballooned to almost disturbing sizes, making him a main-event star in WCW at the cost of his in-ring skills. By the time Steiner was working for WWE, he was a shell of his former self, accomplishing little except to give Triple H two of the worst matches of his career. Today, Steiner has resurfaced in GFW to almost no fanfare, showing just how little fans care about Big Poppa Pump in the modern era. It’s been decades since Steiner worked for Vince McMahon, and the way things are going, he never again will. This is only really a shame in that it means The Steiner Brothers probably won’t enter the Hall of Fame anytime soon since it’s not like anyone wants to see Steiner facing off with Roman Reigns or anything like that. Throw in the fact he has a horrible temper behind the scenes, and WWE fans might just not want to see Steiner at all.
Too hungry to sate himself on what WWE had to offer, Ryback/The Big Guy left Vince McMahon’s employ in 2016, looking for a rival organization willing to feed him more. Pardon the punning around, but there’s something literal about this catchphrase as well. Ryback’s departure very directly related to the amount of money he and fellow WWE superstars were paid for their services and the fact he felt lower tier employees weren’t remunerated properly. Although most people accept the main-event level performers would get paid more, Ryback felt this was bad business, as everyone on the show contributes in his or her own way. He might have a small point somewhere in there, but it’s not one Vince McMahon is at all interested in hearing. Regardless of the fact Ryback looks like exactly the sort of wrestler McMahon loves, he’ll probably never get a second chance in WWE because of these comments. The one thing McMahon loves more than a big, buff superstar is the almighty dollar, and people who try and argue he should part with it more freely rarely stick around for long.
One would never realize it looking at her today, but believe it or not, there was actually a point in time when Sunny’s cry of “I know you want me” was a wholly accurate statement. Things didn’t turn out all too well for the self-proclaimed first diva in wrestling, having long fallen from grace as a highly acclaimed manager to her current life as a largely maligned adult-film actress. Her choice of work notwithstanding, Sunny’s personal life is also entirely out of control, with at least one DUI per year almost a guarantee at this point. Recently, Sunny was sentenced to rehab in relation to her constant traffic charges, yet even successful completion of the program may not be enough for Vince McMahon to ever forgive her. Not 20 years ago, Sunny was genuinely the biggest female star in wrestling, and that she would lower herself to adult entertainment is a poor reflection on the WWE Universe in general, at least insofar as McMahon is concerned.
12 Alberto Del Rio
Having already had two chances at main-event runs in WWE, it would've been fair to guess Alberto Del Rio didn’t have much reason to hope he might work for Vince McMahon ever again regardless of what he’s been up to lately. Of course, given what he’s been saying, it wouldn’t matter if those two runs ended on better terms than they did. Since leaving WWE the second time, Del Rio has been extremely public about his distaste for the company, and though most of his vitriol is directed at Triple H, it isn’t like this doesn’t offend Vince, too. Del Rio’s highly tumultuous relationship with former WWE Divas Champion Paige is also a major concern to the company, and knowing that allowing Del Rio back would bring those two closer is yet another reason McMahon is going to avoid doing so.
11 Rob Van Dam
For more than a full decade, no one in wrestling flew higher than Rob Van Dam, and the fact this statement was half literal/half drug reference only served to make him cooler in the eyes of many fans. Nowadays, almost any young wrestler who attempts to aerially impress fans can do so better than RVD can anymore, although the part about how much he likes doing drugs may well remain the same. Obviously, this penchant for pot use doesn’t endear RVD any to Vince McMahon, who was only willing to look the other way while Van Dam was popular enough to put butts in the seats. Based on RVD’s last run in WWE, all his presence does at this point is confuse people, as he’s no longer at the main-event level, yet his persona makes him feel out of place everywhere else. In essence, there’s no place in WWE where RVD would fit, and McMahon is fully aware of this, seeing no interest in bringing the guy back.
10 Billy Jack Haynes
Who doesn’t like to read about a little crazy? Alright, so Billy Jack Haynes is one of the more obscure names on this list, having only worked for WWE a few years in the mid-1980s. While relatively popular in his day, Haynes was never a huge star on the national level, but he did achieve modest fame locally in the Portland independent scene when his time in WWE ended. And then, sometime after all that ended, Haynes started spouting some of the most insane wrestling-related conspiracy theories any former WWE employee has manufactured. In a 2009 shoot interview, Haynes directly accuse Vince McMahon himself of being a pimp and drug dealer who intentionally got wrestlers hooked on his product, listing off virtually every deceased superstar of the past decade to “prove” it. Hayes also claimed Vince was heavily involved with the last moments of Chris Benoit and that Vince was covering up the truth to protect his empire. It should go without saying this is all absolutely insane, and that’s why Vince has never bothered commenting; nor will he ever acknowledge Haynes again.
9 Simon Gotch
Despite a gimmick that implies the exact opposite, Simon Gotch is the youngest and newest pro wrestler on this list. On the plus side, that means he has the biggest chance of reinventing himself in a way Vince McMahon can’t ignore. Naturally, the downside is that such a reformation is already wholly necessary if Gotch wants another shot at fame in the WWE Universe. Initially, Gotch’s time in the company seemed to be going well, with his peak moment winning the NXT Tag Team Championships with Aiden English as The Vaudevillains. Rumor has it, however, that Vince McMahon never quite understood The Vaudevillains gimmick, thus explaining why that success ended the moment they were called up to the main roster. From there, Gotch, in particular, earned a reputation for getting into backstage fights and antagonizing the catering crew, a string of behavior that made McMahon decide to give up on him for good.
8 Mr. Kennedy
Considering how his career turned out, Vince McMahon probably wishes he had come up with a different name for Mr. Kennedy…Kennedy. From the very beginning, the idea was an allusion to Vince’s own middle name, part of a long gradual build that would have paid off with the idea Kennedy was McMahon’s illegitimate son. For more reasons than we have time to name, that idea went up in smoke, yet Kennedy nonetheless did pretty well for himself in WWE for about four years. Unfortunately, he also gained a reputation for being careless with top stars Randy Orton and John Cena, fast earning him the boot when they didn’t want to work with him anymore. Kennedy could've handled this professionally, but instead, he angrily lashed out at WWE and the stars for daring suggest he was anything but a gentleman inside the ring. For a while, TNA was willing to put up with Kennedy while WWE wasn’t until he went and pulled similar tactics by publicly badmouthing them after they fired him as well.
People say Vince McMahon is a visionary, but not even he could've predicted the wrestler he put into an orange jumpsuit would do something that proved he actually belonged in prison all along. While Nailz is a rather obscure name in wrestling, the story of how he got fired and why WWE will never even bring him back for a talking head in a documentary is too wild to ignore. As for his time in wrestling, Nailz pretty much only had one big feud -- against the Big Boss Man -- which he lost, leaving few prospects for where his character could go from there. When discussing the matter, something happened that apparently caused Nailz to lose his temper, making him lunge across Vince’s desk, knock him out of his chair, and attempt to choke the man out. Luckily, future WWE Hall of Famers Bret Hart and Tito Santana were nearby and able to intervene, literally saving Vince’s neck.
In one of his earliest iconic promos, Raven quoted Black Sabbath to say the world was filled with kings and queens who would blind our eyes and steal our dreams, defining a new type of wrestler for the 1990s. Unfortunately, this Raven was only allowed to truly spread his wings in ECW, though his runs in WCW and WWE weren’t exactly complete wastes. In WWE, specifically, Raven holds the dubious honor of winning the Hardcore Championship more times than anyone else, also making him the most decorated superstar in the company overall. Despite this, most sources claim Vince McMahon was never a fan, dating all the way back to Raven’s Johnny Polo days when he would take Shane McMahon out to parties and nightclubs until the wee hours of the morning. Raven’s 2009 attempt at suing WWE for cheating workers out of health benefits certainly didn’t help things either. Surprisingly, Raven has made a few appearances on WWE Network specials in recent years, but an actual return that would require he interact with the boss is highly unlikely.
5 Dr. D David Schultz
In his own mind, Dr. D David Schultz was one of the greatest heels of the 1980s, a man whose charisma eclipsed that of Jerry Lawler or Hulk Hogan and somehow made Roddy Piper a star. The truth is that Schultz worked with all these wrestlers and occasionally reached the main event by doing so, but his career was probably going to fizzle out by the time the ‘90s rolled around, no matter what. Schultz's value as a performer was being a big mean southerner, an archetype that simply doesn’t have wheels anymore. Chances are, Dr. D wouldn’t be anywhere near the WWE Hall of Fame no matter what, but the circumstances leading to Vince McMahon making his name persona non grata are again too bombastic to avoid mention. During an interview with TV news host John Stossel on 20/20, Schultz was asked if wrestling wasn’t real and replied by slapping the reporter in the face. Obviously, McMahon has never wanted his wrestlers to look like brutish barbarians toward the press, so the worst example of such has been erased from history.
4 Jeff Jarrett
No matter how he chooses to spell it, J-E-Double F J-A-Double R-E-Double T has been G-O-N-E from WWE since 1999, and Vince McMahon made sure to remind fans of this fact in those terms after he bought WCW to ensure they all knew he wasn’t coming back. That was before Jarrett and his father made it their life’s work to compete with McMahon through ventures in NWA/TNA/GWF/etc., and it goes without saying that tensions between them have only intensified from there. McMahon has forgiven a whole lot of people who said bad things about him and even a few who tried to compete with him but only if they were major WWE stars before doing so. Because Jarrett and McMahon have almost always been on bad terms, plus the fact Jarrett has never truly been a top star without a family member or close friend booking the show, it’s unlikely such a reconciliation would ever be possible. Besides, Jarrett’s still busy throwing money into GFW, so it’s not like he wants to come back at the moment, anyway.
3 AJ Lee
For all the attention WWE gives to their so-called women’s wrestling revolution, they sure like to gloss over the fact plenty more superstars were involved in it than merely the ladies currently working for the company. Not even mentioning the countless women who tried their hardest to get wrestling taken seriously for their gender before WWE got in on the trend, there were gals like AJ Lee who predated the concept through her unconventional success by almost a full year. Unfortunately, that success didn’t last long, ironically because Lee was often outspoken about how women in the company were being treated. Shortly before her release, Lee publically lambasted Stephanie McMahon on Twitter for the various discrepancies between male and female WWE superstars' pay, and similar to Del Rio’s issues with Triple H, Vince was hardly appeased by the fact this attack was on his daughter rather than him personally. On top of this, AJ has proclaimed to suffer from injuries WWE wouldn’t care for, which is probably going to keep her out of the ring for good no matter how her former employers feel on the matter.
2 CM Punk
Never one to appreciate a voice being given to the voiceless, Vince McMahon and CM Punk had trouble getting along from the very start. The only thing that allowed Punk to survive in WWE for as long as he did was the fact that, as he often claimed, he was damn near the best in the world at what he did both inside the ring and on the microphone. Of course, McMahon has his limits for how long he’s willing to put up with a loudmouth, and when a historic WWE Championship reign lasting over a year wasn’t enough to get Punk to stop complaining and acting unprofessionally, their relationship was terminated for good. While Punk walking out on WWE sent a pretty clear message, McMahon’s reaction in sending him release papers on his wedding day was an even bigger message and one that Punk received loud and clear. Though he previously believed they’d patch things up somewhere down the line, once McMahon fired him in such a pointed way, he knew the WWE Universe no longer had a place for him. Even if it did, Punk doesn’t want to be there.
1 Hulk Hogan
At one point in time the biggest icon in wrestling, nowadays, Hulk Hogan is generally castigated by the public as a racist who spent the past 15+ years making increasingly bad career decisions. That said, die-hard Hulkamaniacs have been calling for WWE to forgive and forget about comments made on a leaked sex tape and welcome the Hulkster back with open arms. Some even felt this way pretty much from the moment they became aware he had once made highly disparaging remarks about black people. However, the only person whose opinion really matters in terms of Hulk Hogan making a sexagenarian comeback to the WWE Universe is Vince McMahon, and most sources claim the WWE owner is still pretty cheesed about the racism thing. Like with Sunny, the fact Hogan was such a massive star means his comments reflect poorly on an entire era of wrestling, intensified greatly by how much bigger a role he played compared to the former diva. Hiring back Hulk Hogan in any capacity could make WWE, in general, seem racist, so it’s going to take a whole lot more than two years of relative quiet for McMahon to look the other way on this one.