With the news that Chris Hero may in fact be returning to WWE soon, a lot of attention has turned to his physique and the role it may or may not have played in him being released previously.
Now, wrestling is a visual business, I get it, and I don’t mean to say that look doesn’t matter or any of that, that’d clearly be nonsense. But in no way did Hero’s physique get him released from WWE back in 2013. All you need to do is look at his last couple NXT matches, against Alexander Rusev, Tyler Breeze, and Luke Harper to see that he was in, if not the best shape of his career, pretty close to it when the hammer actually dropped. Take a look:
Kind of strange to fire a man for being overweight when he clearly isn’t.
But okay, visual evidence isn’t everything, let’s see what the man himself told future WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens on the Kevin Steen Show, which you can check out on the Highspots Wrestling Network, the best $9.99 you’ll spend on indie wrestling, with everything from AAW to PWG to wXw in the archives, plus a boatload of shoot interviews. After they had a roaring good time discussing the weird names Quebec indie wrestlers give themselves and recounting some horror stories from the area, including the time Sweet Pete’s baby got kicked across the arena, the conversation inevitably turns to Hero’s recent (at the time) release:
"I don't think there's really an easy answer, I just think that they saw, uh, my presentation— who I was, how I presented myself, my promos, my in-ring work, my look, uh, regardless of the things I changed over the years and I think they just, y'know there weren't enough people who were like THAT is gonna work for us, so let's do it.
So, I think there were, y'know, 'Ah, I don't see this' or 'Ah, I don't see that', I'd get little critiques here and there, but I just think the overall consensus was not so much people against me, but like, not having the advocates for me that were determined, that knew I would succeed. And sometimes all it takes is one really strong advocate that believes in you and has enough stroke to say 'Listen, y'know, 9 out of 10 people in this room think this guy's gonna be a failure but I know he's gonna be a success so I'm gonna keep at him.'
And that's the way Triple H is with some guys, like 'Listen, I see it, and I wanna see him succeed.' And he's got that power the he can say 'Alright, listen,' and then, then you see that person succeed, and there's all these situations like that. And I think I'm just down there part of 80 guys and girls and it's like I, I dunno. It's like, kind of, what was I doing?
I came in strong, I did really well to begin with, and then I had a couple little stupid injuries that threw me off mentally more than anything else and then I, uh, I wasn't in optimum shape for a period of time and then that did me no favors. It didn't— some people think I got fired because I was out of shape and that's definitely not true. Um, I was told to, y'know, tighten things up, but that was months and months before any of the rumors hit, so it's just kind of silly when you see that kind of stuff happen.
So that, y'know that just, it didn't, I wouldn't say it hurt me or sealed my fate or anything, I just don't think it did me any favors. So then by the time I did, y'know, I got myself into the best shape I've been in at the end of my run, and uh, it just, by that point it didn't really matter because I had people that were just like, 'Yeah, y'know I think we're gonna go in that direction with him,' as in, 'Bye!', that direction. So... it happens, but at the same time, uh, it was amicable, it was like...
It wasn't 'Hey, you're fuckin' fired, Bob, get out of here!', it's uh, 'Hey, uh, y'know, we'll just kind of see— We know you're passionate,' uh... Told to me personally by Triple H, 'We know you're passionate, we know you work hard, we know you have a good attitude. I've never heard any bad things about your attitude and y'know, maybe this is a thing where we, y'know, take a little bit of a break and then kind of revisit things and see how you're doing.'"
Emphasis mine. So, according to Hero himself, his body certainly played into office perception of him during his time in NXT, but his release was more about a lack of allies in the office than it was about his weight, and any concerns about his weight should have been obliterated when he got himself right back into shape.
It’s up to you how you want to feel about Chris Hero’s physique, folks, and I’m not gonna tell anybody they’re wrong for thinking he needs to slim down again if he wants to be successful in WWE, but it’s pretty clear that it had little to do with the timing of his release.