5 Popular WWE Superstars who were fired and the reason why

Many WWE Superstars have been released by the company in recent years with budget cuts coming thick and fast in the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whilst many of these releases did come down to several stars being fired, others were fired by the company for a whole host of reasons.

The following list looks at just five popular stars who have been fired from the company in recent years and the reason why.

#5. Current WWE Superstar Zelina Vega

Zelina Vega became a popular figure in the company managing Andrade when the duo came through the ranks in NXT. Vega has since gone on to create a career of her own in the Women’s Division. This was almost cut short in November 2020 when she was fired from the company.

Vega’s firing was the first that came following Vince McMahon’s edict regarding third-party platforms. Sports Illustrated confirmed that this was the root of the issues between the star and the company.

Several stars within the company felt that the release had gone too far. Months later, Vega was able to make her return whilst still being a popular star on both Twitch and OnlyFans.

#4. Zack Ryder

Zack Ryder was a popular star throughout his time in WWE. Several times the company’s fanbase pushed for him to be part of the main event title picture. Instead, Ryder was an underutilized member of the locker room and one of the men who was released from the company in April 2020.

After 13 years with WWE, it was a surprising way for Ryder to depart, but he has since been able to make a name for himself on the Independent Circuit. WWE called Ryder and his partner Chelsea Green, asking them to use their pool for a SmackDown segment which included Mandy Rose and Otis.

Ryder revealed his reaction on the Major Wrestling Figure Podcast back in July 2020.

“I’m sitting by the pool with Chelsea, and she has a weird look on her face,” Cardona began. “She’s checking her phone, and I’m like, ‘Babe, what’s up?’ She’s like, ‘Uh, someone from WWE asked me if Otis, Mandy Rose, and a camera crew can come here to film a pool scene for SmackDown.’ I was shaking in anger. Shaking in anger. You fired me, but you want to use my pool?” via TalkSPORT.

Like many other stars who were released in April 2020, this was as a result of the company needing to cut its budget following the COVID-19 pandemic.

#3. Big Damo/Killian Dain

Killian Dain was a well-liked WWE Superstar throughout his time working for the company on both the NXT brand and the main roster. Dain first made a name for himself as a member of Sanity, before moving on to an intense feud with Pete Dunne.

Dain was also known to be in a relationship with fellow star Nikki Cross, who later became known as Nikki A.S.H. on RAW. Despite proving himself several times over, Dain was never pushed on the main roster and became one of the casualties of WWE’s budget cuts. The former star revealed back in 2022 that he was cut from the company whilst he was training other Superstars.

“I was actually training people the day I got fired, it’s one of those things,” he said. “But listen, what is WWE’s loss will be the rest of the world’s gain. Because what I am able to take out to the rest of the world, brilliant.” via WrestlingInc.

Dain was released alongside several other NXT Superstars including The Singh Brothers, Tyler Breeze, and Fandango on June 25th, 2021 as part of a cost-cutting measure.

#2. Enzo Amore

Enzo Amore was fired by WWE back in 2018 after he became the subject of a sexual assault investigation. Amore was one of the company’s most popular stars when he moved up to the main roster and was a decent merchandise seller.

Amore later had some issues backstage and at one point was even thrown out of the locker room. Things reached their climax on the day of RAW’s 25th-anniversary show.

Amore was initially suspended before being fired by the company, with WWE then issuing a statement that read:

“WWE has zero tolerance for matters involving sexual harassment or sexual assault.” via USAToday.

The star has since returned to the wrestling circuit and has even reunited with Big Cass, who is now known as W. Morrisey.

#1. Rusev

Rusev first made an impact in WWE whilst working alongside Lana in NXT. Tthe two stars were then promoted to the main roster and pushed as heels for several years. Lana and Rusev went on to become cast members of Total Divas before embarking on solo feuds of their own.

Whilst Lana was pushed into the women’s division, Rusev went on to be part of several feuds of his own. He was surprisingly fired in April 2020 as part of the first wave of budget cuts.

His release was something he was later able to address on his Twitch channel. He revealed that he was fired from the company before he was able to go on to join AEW.

“So, this is the deal. I got fired, right? Professional wrestling, blah, blah. Who cares? Exciting news is going on … We’re going to start a Twitch channel pretty soon because I want to show you all how good I am at video games,” via IPSNews.com

The Bulgarian Brute has since begun a succesful run in AEW, having multiple runs as their TNT Champion.

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