2010 was a year that saw a large number of employees get released from their WWE contracts. This is the first of a three-part project looking at the 27 people who were fired last year.
This slideshow and the ones following it will focus on those who were announced by wwe.com to be released. So there's no Shawn Michaels, as he retired rather than got the sack.
The Innovator of Violence, the last ECW original. There’s no doubt that Tommy Dreamer is one of the first names that comes to mind when the topic of extreme hardcore wrestling is brought up.
Dreamer (real name Thomas James Laughlin) first broke onto the wrestling scene in the IWCCW under the name T.D. Madison where he became a three-time International World Class Championship Wrestling Tag Team Champion (mouthful, isn’t it?).
While working for the Central Wrestling Alliance (CWA), he changed his name to Tommy Dreamer, with rumour being that the name Dreamer was a tribute to “the American Dream” Dusty Rhodes.
In 1992, Dreamer made the most important move of his career and joined ECW (which was called Eastern Championship Wrestling at the time before Extreme came into it) and soon became the first person in wrestling history to kick out of a pin following Jimmy Snuka’s Superfly Splash.
The following years saw Dreamer rise through the ranks of the roster after feuds with the Sandman, Raven, Cactus Jack and many more. He became ECW World Heavyweight Champion in 2000, however, he wasn’t pleased about it.
In the DVD The Rise and Fall of WCW, he says: “I was actually pissed off. I wanted to go my entire ECW career without winning titles. The only reason I won titles is because guys left.” He lost the title later that night, half an hour after winning it.
In 2001, ECW was finished. Dreamer had worked on the independent circuit for a while before arriving on Raw as part of the WCW/ECW Invasion angle and afterwards stayed on Raw until WWE decided to resurrect ECW in 2005 where he stayed for the rest of his WWE career.
Dreamer first talked about leaving a year before it actually happened, claiming that if he didn’t win the ECW championship by the time his contract expired, then he would retire.
He won it from Christian in a triple threat match by pinning Jack Swagger. This made Dreamer the only person to win the ECW title before and after WWE’s acquisition of the company.
On the Dec. 29, 2009, Tommy Dreamer put his career on the line in a match against Zack Ryder who went on to win. After the match, Dreamer gave a heartfelt speech before lifting his wife and two daughters over the barrier and walking back to the WWE locker room for the last time.
This was also the last time Zack Ryder won a match. Nah, I’m just joking. Zack Ryder has won a match since 2009, hasn’t he?
Dreamer gave an interview with Slam Wrestling as to why he left WWE. His excuse was that he felt he couldn’t contribute to the company anymore.
WWE announced the release of Dreamer in January 2010 and was the first in a long list of people that were to be booted out of the company that year.
Vickie Guerrero appeared on the 500th episode of Smackdown, returning after a long absence following her brief stint as Raw general manager, and with her she brought her new boyfriend, Eric Escobar.
During his short WWE career, Escobar (real name Eric Pérez) really only did one thing of major interest and that was have a match with John Morrison for the Intercontinental Championship…..which he lost.
His relationship with Vickie Guerrero was the same kind of relationship she always has in her storylines; she thinks she has an amazing guy, they use her for power, they get opportunities, then they suck or tell her they hate her and split up.
After his split from Vickie, Escobar really had no reason to remain in WWE, and he wrestled his last WWE match (a loss to Kane) in December 2009 and a month later was released.
The 26th of February was a dark day for many on the WWE roster as it saw four superstars released. Well, a dark day for fans of Maria, but more on that later. The first sacking of the day was “that guy who used to be a pirate” or as he likes to be called; Paul Burchill.
In 2005, Burchill was working for the WWE and became tag team partners with fellow Englishman William Regal. In 2006, Burchill and Regal told Smackdown network representative Palmer Canon that they didn’t want to be a tag team anymore and wanted to go their separate ways.
During the discussion, Burchill told Canon that his family heritage traced back to the pirate Blackbeard and therefore wanted to do a pirate gimmick.
What followed was a feud between Burchill and Regal, with the former dressing up as a pirate, looking rather like Jack Sparrow, and swinging from a rope during his entrance.
In 2008, Burchill, along with his on-screen sister Katie Lea, moved to ECW, a fate that not even a pillaging cut-throat blackguard should have to face.
For the next few months, he won barely any of his matches, and took a short break in June 2009 due to the death of his brother in Afghanistan. When returning, he became involved in a feud with backstage interviewer Gregory Helms, accusing him of being the masked wrestler The Hurricane (which he was).
This resulted in Burchill and Katy Lea wearing masks, calling themselves The Ripper and The Beautiful Nightmare respectively. The Hurricane unmasked Burchill, who then put his career on the line in a match that Hurricane would have to unmask at the end of if he lost.
The man who once made the crowd cheer as he descended to ramp in his full pirate costume, lost and as a result left ECW and after the closure of ECW, was released by WWE.
Gregory Shane Helms is probably best known in WWE for things such as his superhero gimmick as The Hurricane and his Cruiserweight Championship reign.
Helms won the cruiserweight title at the Royal Rumble in 2006 and afterwards declared that he was the best out of all the cruiserweights which led to a match at No Way Out that pitted Helms against all the cruiserweights of Smackdown. He won the match.
Helms spent the next few months successfully defending his title against all the other cruiserweights on a weekly basis and soon became the longest reigning cruiserweight champion in history, a mammoth 385 days, losing the belt at No Way Out 2007 to Chavo Guerrero.
After a year out due to neck injury, Helms returned to Smackdown, and after a feud with Shelton Benjamin, was told by WWE that he was crap and wasn’t to have a future in the compa- I mean, he was drafted to ECW.
While at ECW, Helms worked as a backstage interviewer but started to become involved in a feud with fellow released superstar Paul Burchill after taking on the persona of The Hurricane once more.
The Hurricane had first appeared in 2001 after WCW was bought by WWF, an acquisition that included 25 wrestling contracts, one of which was Helms’, and throughout the year won the Cruiserweight Championship, the European Championship, the WWE Hardcore Championship and the World Tag Team Titles with his partner Kane.
However, The Hurricane’s feud with Paul Burchill was to be his last, as he was rarely seen afterwards. This was probably due to the fact that on Jan. 27, 2010, Helms was arrested along with Chris Jericho, after he punched Jericho in the face while they were both drunk.
One month later, Helms was released by WWE.
This was by far the worst of the lot. I would have sold John Cena to keep Maria in WWE. Wouldn’t you? No, I’m not going to take this slide seriously.
Maria Kanellis debuted in WWE in 2004 after coming in fifth place in that year's diva search competition. Maria was given a dumb blonde gimmick (even though she was brunette but it still didn’t make her any less attractive) and would interview superstars and divas backstage. Good times.
In 2005, she finally started in the ring and did not disappoint. Well how could she when her first match was a Lingerie Pillow Fight? Good times.
In 2006, she took part in a Bra & Panties Gauntlet match along with Ashley, Victoria, Torrie Wilson and Candice Michelle. Good times.
In 2008, Maria was on the cover of Playboy magazine after getting the idea from Ashley, her tag team partner for Wrestlemania XXIV. Good times.
After not having much to do, Maria went through a couple of on-screen romances in 2009 with Dolph Ziggler and Matt Hardy, respectively.
In 2010, after an interview with British newspaper (if you can call it that) The Sun, WWE management were unhappy with how she answered questions about her future with the company and in February she was released. Bad times.
Charlie Haas first appeared in WWE on Smackdown along with Shelton Benjamin as Team Angle and were to help Kurt Angle retain the WWE Heavyweight Championship (sort of like Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder with Edge) and quickly went on to win the WWE Tag Team Championships.
They lost the titles three months later and blamed Kurt Angle who as a result, turned on the pair, forcing them to be their own tag team proclaiming themselves “The World’s Greatest Tag Team.” As a result of Benjamin getting drafted to Raw the next year, the team disbanded.
Haas still managed to win the tag belts again, this time with Rico while being followed by his valet Miss Jackie who later in life actually married Haas. It just wasn’t the same though, and Haas and Rico split soon after losing the belts. Haas later formed a team with Hardcore Holly, but they never won the belts.
Haas took a year out and returned as a singles competitor, starting a feud with Viscera (Big Daddy V) after causing Lillian Garcia, V’s love interest at the time, to fall off the ring apron and sprain her wrist (by accident).
Lillian then did the worst thing to do to a skilled technical wrestler and a near-500 pound black guy: she friend zoned them both. In the space of a few minutes Haas had raked Viscera’s eyes, who then went on to give Lillian a Samoan drop.
When the pair saw what had happened they both looked at each other and laughed. Even though they had both been fighting over Lillian, they ended up forming a tag team. Bro’s before ho’s, I guess.
In late 2008 Charlie Haas began a gimmick that frankly, I found hilarious. He would impersonate superstars such as “Charlito”, John Cena, JBL, Good Ol’ JR, Great Khali and MVP and legends such as Stone Cold Steve Haastin, Bret Hart, Mr. Perfect, Jimmy Snuka and Hulk Hogan.
Haas even impersonated Beth Phoenix and won a Slammy Award for it.
Unfortunately, after a brief spell back on Smackdown, Haas spent several months without being seen before returning on Superstars to team with Mike Knox.
Was this the return of Charlie Haas? No. He was released by WWE in February the next year after he felt he wasn’t being used well enough. Can’t blame him.
Fortunately, Mickie James is one of the ones that have something to fall back on if not in the wrestling business. She has her singing career. Unfortunately, she’s crap. Hey that’s just my opinion, her songs never grab my attention and when she performed live on TNA she sounded awful to me.
Also, I don’t find her particularly attractive. I thought LayCool hit it right on the button calling her Piggy James because frankly she does look like a pig. Or a better looking Vickie Guerrero, you decide.
Ok I’m being harsh towards her, yes WWE lost a great talent when she was released last April. She has a lot of athletic ability, good promo skills and can get very physical when needs be. And of course there’s the famous kiss with her and Trish Stratus. Now I know I said earlier that I didn’t find Mickie James that attractive but when it comes to two women snogging, even Kathy Bates and Jo Brand would make me look twice. Okay maybe not that far.
Highlights of Mickie’s career include managing Tommy Dreamer to win the KYDA Pro Heavyweight Championship, being trained in a Dory Funk Jr. work shop and an ECW dojo, grabbing Trish Stratus’ crotch, becoming the first Diva to win their first Women’s Championship at their first Wrestlemania, dislocating Stratus’ shoulder after throwing her out the ring, winning the Women’s title another 4 times, winning the Diva’s Championship (making her the second woman in history to win both the women’s belt and the diva’s belt) and 2 stints on TNA.
According to sources, WWE let Mickie James go on account of her behaviour backstage which apparently involved confrontations with Batista who told WWE management that he would quit if she wasn’t fired, and Undertaker had to get involved to calm him down.
Mickie was the first of seven superstars that were released that same day.
Katie Lea Burchill (real name Katarina Waters) started in WWE as Paul Burchill’s on-screen sister. It was hardly a dream career. She had some inter-gender tag matches alongside Paul and in singles competition she never went far. After Paul lost to The Hurricane on ECW in a mask vs. career match, both Paul and Katie Lea had to leave but both turned up next week donning masks and going by the name The Ripper and The Beautiful Nightmare. The gimmick didn’t last long.
After Paul was released by WWE, Katie Lea really had nothing to do. The company failed to re-package her and decided she had to go. I think I can speak for everyone when I say frankly, she won’t be missed.
Now this piece of news certainly ruffled the feathers of the IWC! Out of all 27 wrestlers that lost their job last year this was probably the second most outrageous of them all (the first being in my next slideshow). Yes, the sacking of Shelton Benjamin certainly took us all by surprise. He’s an extremely talented athlete and was never afraid to go all the way. He has had many impressive matches in his career, be they one on one like his match of the year contender against Shawn Michaels, or special stipulation such as Money In The Bank. His achievements involve capturing the Intercontinental Championship three times, the United States Championship once (being the only person to win it at the Great American Bash) and the WWE Tag Team Championship twice with his other half in The Greatest Tag Team In The World; Charlie Haas.
After parting ways with Haas when being drafted to Raw, Benjamin became a face after an upset victory over Triple H, causing a feud between Benjamin and Evolution. He managed to beat Triple H and Ric Flair but lost to the legend killer Randy Orton.
Benjamin went on to win the Intercontinental Championship for the first time by beating Chris Jericho in the autumn of 2004, and was able to defend it for just under a year earning himself the longest Intercontinental title run of the decade.
2007 saw the start of the Gold Standard gimmick. Benjamin was drafted to ECW and was able to get more air time. He beat Tommy Dreamer in his ECW debut match and didn’t lose until a count out victory by Kane two months later.
Benjamin was drafted to Smackdown in 2008 and at the Great American Bash, won the United States Championship from Matt Hardy. The Gold Standard defended the title many times throughout his reign, not losing the belt until the 500th episode of Smackdown the next year to MVP, totalling his days as US Champ to 243, a feat that’s just as impressive as his first Intercontinental run. A couple of months later, Benjamin was drafted back to ECW (poor guy) where he began a feud with Sheamus, becoming a face once more.
After Sheamus left for Raw, Benjamin only had one major storyline left, a brief feud with Christian for the ECW Championship that ended after a ladder match at the TLC pay-per-view, during which Christian was “busted wide open” and worked on by medics for several minutes, killing the action, boring the fans and making Benjamin look stupid as he wandered around for ages trying to do something other than climb up a ladder and take down the title he wasn’t scheduled to win.
And that was about it for poor old Shelton. He popped up every now and then on Smackdown and the Money In The Bank match at Wrestlemania XXVI but did very little else. His last WWE match was a dark match against a returning Joey Mercury. When Benjamin was let go by WWE, he said in an interview that he was still wondering why they had done it, and that it probably boiled down to him being in the company so long that they didn’t really know what to do with him.
Regardless of WWE’s reasons, it is a shame that Benjamin was given the boot. He was a skilled technical wrestler, who gave good matches and impressive title runs. Vince McMahon surely lost a valuable piece when he let this golden boy get away.
Well that's it for part 1. Nine down, eighteen to go. Hope you enjoyed the slideshow and if you did, look out for part two that involves an american dragon, a weirdy beardy and a rather well endowed bald chick.