Zach Gowen Explains All The Factors That Led To His WWE Release

Former WWE star Zach Gowen has opened up about the various reasons that led to his departure from the company in February 2004.

Prior to his exit, Gowen – the only one-legged competitor in WWE history – was utilized in feuds against the likes of Brock Lesnar and Vince McMahon, only to be quickly relegated to the bottom of the card against the cruiserweights. On a recent episode of his "The False Finish" podcast, Gowen was asked if there was a specific incident that led to his firing, and why WWE management soured on him prior to his dismissal.


"It was just a culmination of my behavior and my inability to be a professional, and to handle the responsibility of a WWE Superstar" Gowen said. "It's really that simple — my behavior, actions, and attitude led me to being released." He reflected on his match against Matt Hardy at No Mercy 2003 — his final match on pay-per-view, revealing that WWE management specifically put him in a series of matches against Hardy at house shows so he could learn the tricks of the trade. 

"So, me and Matt, we were friendly, we got along great," Gowen continued. "We do our match at the pay-per-view, which, I think, was my only win in WWE. Two nights later, on SmackDown, I get concussed — I am knocked out. My hands go into the fencing pose, and this was before concussions were really a thing. So, they sent me to the hotel, I remember lying in my bed ... the whole room is spinning and my head is hurting, not knowing where I'm at."


Gowen Recalls The Phone Call From Jim Ross

Just as a concussed Zach Gowen tried to come to grips with reality, former WWE star Orlando Jordan walked into the room and started yelling at him for laying in his bed. 

Subsequently, Gowen was put on a plane and sent home. The next day, he received a call from John Laurinaitis. "He says, 'Whenever you are cleared by the doctor, give me a call, and we'll figure out where we're going.' He goes, 'Right now, you got a lot of heat from a lot of people and I want to help you dissipate that.'" 


"I appreciated that," Gowen said of Laurinaitis' call, suggesting that he was glad to hear the former WWE Head of Talent Relations being honest with him about the WWE locker room's feelings towards him.

As for the exact moment where "the wheels fell off" and fast-tracked his WWE exit, Gowen recounted another story that was a little personal in nature, but enough to annoy his bosses in Stamford. "During this time, I met a girl," Gowen recalled. "I fall in love, man, like, just stupid head-over-heels in love, in Detroit. They [WWE] want me to move to Louisville, to go through the OVW system, and to pay my dues WWE style and gain the respect of the locker room."

Why Gowen Feels Forever Indebted To JR

"That was their plan for me — and it was a beautiful plan," Gowen continued. "The problem was I fell in love with a girl, and I called John Laurinaitis and said, 'Listen, I appreciate that you want me to move to Louisville, but I'm going to stay in Detroit. I am fully healthy, I will continue to train at my local wrestling school ... you guys give me a call whenever you want me back on TV.'"


Gowen's call to Laurinaitis had done irreversible damage to his hopes of living the dream of being a WWE superstar. A month later, he would be flown into the WWE HQ in Stamford, where Jim Ross fired him

"What I remember from that was how gracious and sincere Jim Ross was," Gowen said. "He let me know, 'It's not a talent issue, it's a maturity issue.'" The conversation ended with Ross telling Gowen "to keep wrestling" and "try out different characters" at indie events and that the door was always open for a potential return to WWE. "It was almost fatherly the way he sat me down and told me I'm getting fired. I'll always remember that and thank Jim Ross for that."

Gowen did take Ross' advice and worked for various indie promotions following his WWE exit, ultimately showcasing his talents at bigger companies such as TNA — where he wrestled before WWE — and Ring of Honor. In recent years, Gowen has been a regular fixture for WrestlePro Alaska, wrestling his last match for the indie promotion in April 2022.