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26 Great Wrestlers That Got Let Go By WWE

Even big names aren't immune from being sent away.

The WWE is a competitive industry, and one that isn't afraid to cut talent either. For various reasons, the company has released major superstars over the years, though that doesn't always mean it's goodbye forever. Some manage to find their way back years later, though not everyone is so lucky. 

Here, we'll detail over thirty wrestlers who were of note in the WWE and were let go for various reasons. Some of which may even be featured at upcoming WWE events, while others have found success elsewhere. Check out these folks, and maybe watch some of their old matches with a Peacock Premium subscription: 

(WWE)
Matt Hardy

Much like his brother Jeff, Matt Hardy was also fired from the WWE twice. The first time came in 2005 after it became public that his real-life girlfriend and superstar Lita cheated on him with Edge. The second time came in 2010, which the wrestler revealed on his podcast The Extreme Life Of Matt Hardy he felt was a combination of being physically worn down from wrestling, and his brother leaving a year earlier.  

(WWE)
Melina

Melina was one of the more memorable women's wrestlers of her era, and would likely fit in well with the current roster of women in wrestling. Unfortunately, things didn't work out so well for her in WWE, and she was unceremoniously released in 2011 despite being a five-time world champion. Melina has returned a couple times since her release, with the latest happening at the 2022 Royal Rumble.

(WWE)
Carlito

While Carlito found his way back in the WWE eventually, his original run was derailed in 2010 when he was fired by the company. Carlito was removed for violating the organization's wellness policy. Carlito later returned to the WWE as the LWO's third tag-team partner at Fastlane 2023. 

(WWE)
Mickie James

After returning following her exit in 2010, WWE legend Mickie James found herself part of a mass release by the WWE in 2021. Though she was one of many released, the women's superstar took specific offense when her belongings were sent to her by the organization in a trash bag. The multi-time women's champion later signed with Impact, and went on a run as one of its biggest champions. 

(WWE)
Shelton Benjamin

Following a release in 2010 ending a ten-year run in WWE, Shelton Benjamin returned in 2017 and began working with various new superstars. Benjamin ultimately found himself a part of a mass release by the company in 2023, and was alongside Dolph Ziggler as one of the more shocking releases of the bunch. 

(WWE)
Muhammad Hassan

Muhammad Hassan seemed destined for WWE greatness, but the Arab-American superstar would end up being fired due to events beyond his control. In a scripted segment, Hasan carried out a brutal and torturous attack on The Undertaker, just around the same time as the much-publicized London terrorist attacks in 2005. The WWE gained a lot of criticism for its programming, and ultimately fired Hassan.

(WWE)
Scotty Goldman

Wrestling fans may not remember Scotty Goldman in the WWE, and that's largely because he only wrestled seven matches before being fired. Now, as Colt Cabana, he has a much larger following in the wrestling community and even a roster spot in AEW. 

(WWE)
Umaga

Umaga was a promising star in the WWE with big potential, but trouble led to him exiting the company on two separate occasions. The wrestler was released in 2003, and then again in 2009 after violating the company's wellness policy a second time. Umaga died from a heart attack six months after his release, with toxicity from multiple substances listed as a factor. 

(WWE)
The IIconics

Billy Kay and Peyton Royce, otherwise known as The IIconics, were rising stars in the women's tag division in the WWE. Despite their hilarious segments and charisma, the company ultimately disbanded the team in 2021 and released both wrestlers soon after. 

(WWE)
Drew McIntyre

Drew McIntyre is one of the WWE's biggest superstars, but his first run in the company wasn't quite as memorable. While he had some early success, he ultimately was a supporting member of the joke faction 3MB (Three Man Band) toward the end of his run. In 2014, the WWE dropped him from his contract, but of course, he later returned with a vengeance in 2017. 

(WWE)
Mr. Kennedy

Many wrestling fans believe Mr. Kennedy had the charisma to be one of the WWE's biggest superstars, but his career never quite hit that level. The superstar was released in 2009 and later said to Wrestlezone that it was a combination of Randy Orton and John Cena complaining that he was an unsafe wrestler that led to his dismissal. 

(WWE)
Curt Hennig

Curt Hennig's firing from WWE in 2002 is part of pro wrestling history, as he played a prominent role in the incident known as the "Plane Ride From Hell." Hennig played a prank on Brock Lesnar, which resulted in a scrap that nearly opened the emergency exit mid-flight. That was the end of Hennig's run, though it did make for the "perfect" story. 

(WWE)
Jeff Jarrett

In one of the more bizarre firings of WWE, Jeff Jarrett was fired on a filmed backstage segment ahead of WrestleMania 17 by Vince McMahan himself. While Jarrett assumed it was part of the show because it was filmed, he soon found out it was not. Jarrett would later return to the WWE in various roles later in his career. 

(WWE)
Alberto Del Rio

Alberto Del Rio was one of the WWE's greatest superstars throughout his runs, but was fired in 2014 for unprofessional conduct.  It was alleged that he was fired due to slapping an employee who told a racist joke, but it was never confirmed. Del Rio returned to the WWE years later, but ultimately asked to be let out of his contract in 2015. 

(WWE)
Scott Hall

Scott Hall is another iconic WWE wrestler who found themselves out of the company following the infamous incident "The Plane Ride From Hell." He was released not long after, with reasoning tied to substance abuse issues as well. 

(WWE)
CM Punk

After a frustrating loss at Royal Rumble 2014, CM Punk didn't show up to the following Monday Night Raw. The wrestler would continue to no-show, but the way the WWE treated it made it seem like it was part of a storyline. The WWE made the news official later that year, and Punk stayed away from wrestling for years, until eventually returning to AEW and being fired again. 

(AEW)
Kurt Angle

Even WWE legends with gold medals aren't safe from the chopping block. Kurt Angle ultimately found himself amongst a slew of superstars released in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

(WWE)
Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan is one of the biggest names in WWE history, and even he wasn't immune to being fired. The wrestler was ultimately fired from the company after making racist comments in a video that was distributed publicly. Hogan has since been brought back to the company years later. 

(WWE)
Shawn Michaels

Shawn Michaels is remembered as one of the WWE's biggest superstars, and even he was once fired by the company. This actually came at the beginning of his career in the WWE, along with tag-team partner Marty Janetty. They were fired less than two weeks after starting, but returned a year later and still became wrestling icons. 

(WWE)
Paige

Paige was immediately popular in the WWE, and even was the only superstar to get a feature film about her journey to the company. Unfortunately, she was sidelined for a long time with neck injuries and couldn't get clearance to return to the ring. She was ultimately granted a release in 2022, and went over to AEW. 

(WWE)
Sabu

Sabu was one of the ECW wrestlers retained by WWE when they were acquired, but his run didn't last long. Much is rumored about Sabu's firing but what is known is that since he was fired in 2007 he has not returned to the WWE but continued wrestling almost the entire time since. This includes at AEW where he showed up in 2023. 

(WWE)
Cesaro

Sometimes companies and wrestlers grow apart, and that seems to have happened with Cesaro and the WWE. After an eleven-year stint with the company, and some pretty consistent popularity with the fans, the wrestler was unable to reach a deal with the WWE on his contract extension. The two sides went their separate ways, and Cesaro went on to AEW and Ring of Honor where he's been a top superstar. 

(WWE)
Jack Swagger

Jack Swagger is a case of a wrestler who had a solid run of nearly a decade in the WWE, but decided the time had come to go elsewhere. Via Uproxx, Swagger mentioned on a podcast that he had asked the company for his release, as he wasn't getting opportunities. The WWE initially publicly denied he was granted a release, but then later gave him the opportunity to go elsewhere. Swagger then traveled around, before ultimately settling on a new home in AEW.

(WWE)
Hideo Itami

When Kenta Kobayashi debuted as Hideo Itami in the WWE, many in the wrestling world were thrilled. Itami was a legend in the Japanese circuit of pro wrestling, and seemed prime to be a major player in the brand. Unfortunately, multiple injuries led to a lackluster five-year stint with the company before he was ultimately granted a release. Itami has since found success elsewhere like AEW and in New Japan Pro Wrestling. 

(WWE)
Chyna

Chyna was and still is considered one of the biggest women's superstars in professional wrestling, which made her eventual release from the company all the more tragic. Multiple factors have been noted in her departure. She was ultimately granted her release in 2001, and wrestled sporadically before her death in 2016. 

(WWE)
Goldust

Goldust is a wrestler who has been in and out of the WWE around five or six times, though he was welcomed back even when he was released. He's perhaps proof positive that a firing is never permanent in the company, assuming no bridges are burned on the way out. Hell, even when they are, it's hard to deny there's still a chance of coming back!

(WWE)

The WWE has been the home to various pro wrestlers over the years, and yes, even the most legendary of superstars have been let go in its history.