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McMahon fires up his "You're fired" catchphrase
By TJ MADISON - Calgary Sun


Long before Donald Trump claimed it as his own, "You're fired" was one of Vince McMahon's most famous catchphrases. Steve Austin, Eric Bischoff and anyone else who crossed the WWE kingpin would inevitably hear him growl those two words, as the live crowd chanted along in unison.

Well, McMahon must be suffering from withdrawal symptoms ever since The Donald stole his gimmick, because he used his old tag line with alarming regularity this week.

Unfortunately, this time, it wasn't part of a TV show.

Test, Billy Gunn, A-Train, Chuck Palumbo, Nidia, Gail Kim, Rodney Mack, Jazz, Rico and Johnny Stamboli have been released from their WWE contracts, in what may be the largest mass firing in company history.

By the time you read this, at least two more wrestlers will have been handed their marching orders by WWE Human Resources boss John Laurinaitis.

The motives behind the cuts were said to be purely financial and, on paper at least, it makes business sense. High-paid grapplers with a proven track record of not drawing a dime get fired. The surplus in the talent-relations budget is used to hire fresh (and cheaper) blood.

A-Train (Matt Bloom), for example, has been on the receiving end of multiple high-profile pushes but has never made a positive impact on the ratings. He was a solid worker and apparently a really nice guy but when the only audience reaction you elicit is a chant of "Shave your back," well, something's gotta give.

Billy Gunn (Monty Sopp) was believed to be making around $250,000 per year, as one of the big stars who carried over from the late '90s wrestling boom,

Unfortunately, it's now five years later and, with the exception of a brief but lucrative flirt with a gay marriage storyline, Gunn hasn't had a successful gimmick since the turn of the millennium.

Add some alleged personal problems to the mix and it's clear WWE bosses felt their $250,000 would be better invested elsewhere.

At one point, Test (Andrew Martin) was considered a future main-event superstar but his two-dimensional personality and failure to turn it up a notch in the ring limited him to mid-card comedy status. His most memorable storyline achievements included an on-screen engagement to Stephanie McMahon and a tacky gimmick which basically involved him referring to his fans as "Testicles."

Test. Testicles.

Get it? Never mind.

Test has been out of action due to chronic back problems which required major surgery. His real-life girlfriend, Stacy Keibler, is still employed by WWE.

Although Test's injury will keep him out for the rest of the year, the other ex-WWE wrestlers probably won't be on the unemployment line for long, although they may have a 90-day, non-compete arrangement, which will prevent them from working for a rival grappling organization straight away.

On the other hand, since it seems none of the contracts actually expired -- WWE simply chose to exercise the opt-out clause which comes up every three to six months -- some of the 12 may be free to pick up work elsewhere, effective immediately.

If that's the case, Christmas has come early for NWA TNA. The fledgling grapping group will be holding its first three hour pay-per-view Sunday (Calgary fans can catch the action on pay-per-view or at Bottoms Up Sports Pub) and an influx of established WWE faces would give the show a much-needed boost.

Either way, the ex-WWE stars will likely be peddling copyright-friendly versions of their gimmicks on TNA as soon as the paperwork can be completed.

Coincidentally, the same week WWE ditched a dozen familiar faces, three newcomers made their TV debuts on Raw.

After several months of appearing in fake infomercials during WWE programming, Mike (Nova) Bucci debuted as Simon Dean, an annoying Tony Little-esque fitness guru.

Mark Magnus and Shawn Daivari also made their first appearances on Raw as an Arab-American duo dealing with anti-Muslim stereotypes in the wake of 9/11.

Expect new characters to start popping up on a more regular basis, as WWE begins to invest heavily in their farm territories, in hope of finding the next big superstar.


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