It may seem unthinkable that some of today’s WWE legends weren’t instant successes, that many struggled early in their careers with bad gimmicks, issues with WWE management or performance. in the ring.
In recent years, the release of WWE talent has become commonplace, almost a staple of the WWE calendar, but it may surprise many fans to learn of five WWE legends who were almost on the receiving end. of the fearsome “YOU’RE FIRED!”
John Cena had a stellar first few years in the world of professional wrestling. Armed with his intriguing ‘prototype’ persona and standout physique that saw him grow from regional promotion Ultimate Pro Wrestling to WWE development in OVW, all the way to his main roster debut in 2002.
Despite displaying his “ruthless aggression” in his impressive debut against Kurt Angle, fans were quick to find the act stale and uninspiring. After a period of lackluster reactions, Cena learned he was next on the chopping block.
At the end of her last European tour, Stephanie McMahon flew over Cena rapping freestyle on the tour bus. She challenged Cena to rap on the spot about a can of tuna of all things. When Cena – pun intended – took the challenge out of the water, McMahon asked if he wanted to do it on TV and well, the rest is history.
Cena’s OVW classmate and longtime rival Randy Orton also faced the prospect of losing his job, but for entirely different reasons.
There were no worries about Orton’s ability or star quality, with many considering Orton to be one of the most naturally gifted performers of all time. Instead, the concern with Orton was his ability to conduct himself professionally outside of the ring.
It’s well documented that after becoming the youngest WWE World Champion in history, a record still held to this day, Orton’s ego spiraled out of control. In WWE’s “The Evolution of a Predator,” Triple H recalls that Orton’s first title run was cut short due to his inability to handle the pressure of being the champion professionally.
Luckily for Orton, Vince McMahon is rumored to have seen himself in Randy, which may have inspired him to give The Viper some slack. Over time, Orton matured in the role and became something of a locker room leader for today’s locker room.
Despite being one of the most consistent performers of recent years, main event mainstay Seth Rollins almost let go before he made it to the main roster.
Rollins recalled the situation in an interview with WWE.com:
“I literally almost lost my job. I had been there for almost two years. I was very frustrated. I couldn’t get along with anyone. I thought I deserved more than me.
After tearing down houses at Ring of Honor and becoming one of India’s hottest prospects, Rollins found it difficult to conform to the “WWE way.” Former WWE writer Rob Naylor confirmed management’s initial frustrations with Rollins’ behavior:
“Rollins’ problems were simply that he didn’t always listen precisely to his coaches. He would be told not to move…and then just do it. Later he would tell the young talent to be patient and listen to what he was saying. you are told, because once you get the spot you deserve, then you will have the opportunity to have more latitude in the ring, so to speak.
Rollins allegedly approached Triple H saying you either had to call me or let me go, which ruffled some people the wrong way, but luckily for Seth, The Game gave him the benefit of the doubt and the ability to make it happen. his proofs.
It seems that the bet has succeeded.
Next on the list is Rollins’ real-life wife Becky Lynch, who saw her own meteoric rise in 2018, rocketing to become the first female main eventer at WrestleMania, alongside Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey.
Navigating hasn’t always been easy for Lynch, who admits she nearly lost her job during the development days. In an interview with CBS, she recalled:
“I got a few text messages this week from people here at work and NXT or who were working in the office. (They said) I don’t know if you knew this, but there are people who wanted to fire you when you were in the office. in NXT. Congratulations on the main event (of WrestleMania 35). I was like, ‘Well, no, I knew that.’
Lynch said it was a conversation with John Cena that changed everything. When Lynch asked her what she was doing wrong, Cena replied, “I don’t know who you are.” This moment made her ask the tough questions about who Becky Lynch’s character was and who she should be.
She then threw caution to the wind on social media and on TV, forcing fans to rally behind her in a way that resembled the defiant rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin.
As she grew in popularity, she called herself “the man”, due to the belief that she was truly the draw and therefore the man at that time in professional wrestling.
Fans and management loved it, with this campaign taking it all the way to the main event of WrestleMania 35 and into the history books.
Last on our list is Marvel star and pro wrestling legend, Dave ‘The Animal’ Batista. Batista was one of the true stars of the early 2000s for WWE and it’s easy to forget just how great the animal was with his larger-than-life stature and uniquely stoic confidence.
He is now one of the most famous professional wrestlers to ever step into the ring, but after starting professional wrestling at the relatively late age of 30, it was uncertain whether he could qualify for the main event.
Jim Cornette recalls his frustrations with how Batista was misused in his Smackdown debut:
“We had a bespoke gimmick for Undertaker, Kane and Big Show, and they’re bringing [Batista] get up and put it on with D-Von, hang this thing around his neck and put a costume on him to cover his muscles. I had lost my mind; then they were about to fire him until he started training with Triple H.
Fortunately, finding a friendship in training with The Game, Batista was soon invited to join Evolution, consisting of legendary Ric Flair, established world champion Triple H and fellow countryman Randy Orton.
Evolution dominated Monday Night Raw from 2003 to 2005, with the group being used as a vehicle to push Batista and Orton to the moon.
Eventually, Batista became babyface to Triple H after winning the Royal Rumble in 2005 and cemented his name in the history books by defeating The Game for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 21 and becoming synonymous with ‘The Big Gold’. Belt’ throughout his legendary WWE career.
Having now achieved critical acclaim and acclaim as a Hollywood actor, Batista has done it all in the entertainment world, but who knows what would have happened if he got stuck a Deacon Batista!