10 Beloved Wrestlers FIRED By WWE

Nobody is safe: featuring CM Punk, Samoa Joe and more...

Eddie Guerrero Vince McMahon

In November, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer reported that WWE wants to re-sign its top talent to "big money" deals. They don't want anybody big to leave.

This dispels the pessimism that surrounded the TKO deal initially. Previously, when Endeavor acquired UFC, a bloodbath followed. Few were safe, no matter how much they poured into the company - and much of that was very literal blood, sweat and tears.

This isn't necessarily a benevolent gesture, not that "Hey, we won't fire you!" could be described as such. WWE independent contractors expect less pay than the biggest UFC names. That's just how the market works, sadly. Virtually every wrestler is underpaid. Virtually every UFC fighter is underpaid; they're just paid better than wrestlers, which is great news for TKO, since the group can offer a bit more money, still below what they're accustomed to spending, and pump it up as a morale-boosting big money deal.

The thing about WWE is that nobody is safe, and the past dictates the future. That last part is a generally correct truism, but WWE is in a new phase of its lifespan now. Perhaps it's unfair to accuse TKO of conducting itself in the exact same way the Vince McMahon-owned WWE did.

Still, it's not as if TKO is some family-owned business or lifestyle company. Birds of a feather flock together and all that.

Just don't say nobody warned you...

10. CM Punk

Eddie Guerrero Vince McMahon

This one was more of a technicality, but still.

CM Punk infamously walked out of WWE the day after the 2014 Royal Rumble. A convergence of several factors drove his exit.

He was mentally unwell. He was disgusted by the fact that he was the one who had to do jobs for part-timers the Rock, Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker; shockingly, going over Ryback was no equaliser. That idea, and indeed the actual experience, was painful to him.

As was the experience of life in WWE generally; he said, in the Art of Wrestling podcast that forever altered the trajectory of his life, that he was given antibiotics for a concussion. He also claimed that he was put under intense pressure to return early from injury, when still healing, and that he had what a doctor not affiliated with WWE told him was a "full-blown staph infection" on his ass.

In a pretty funny attempt to win him back, Triple H held aloft the boom box in his 'Say Anything' moment and said "You can pin me at WrestleMania".

Punk laughed, said no, and walked.

WWE then fired him on his wedding day in a very typical troll move.


Michael Sidgwick is an editor, writer and podcaster for WhatCulture Wrestling. With over seven years of experience in wrestling analysis, Michael was published in the influential institution that was Power Slam magazine, and specialises in providing insights into All Elite Wrestling - so much so that he wrote a book about the subject. You can order Becoming All Elite: The Rise Of AEW on Amazon. Possessing a deep knowledge also of WWE, WCW, ECW and New Japan Pro Wrestling, Michael’s work has been publicly praised by former AEW World Champions Kenny Omega and MJF, and surefire Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Cody Rhodes. When he isn’t putting your finger on why things are the way they are in the endlessly fascinating world of professional wrestling, Michael wraps his own around a hand grinder to explore the world of specialty coffee. Follow Michael on X (formerly known as Twitter) @MSidgwick for more!