What Happened To Lance Cade After Being Fired By WWE?

Lance Cade was a fixture of the tag team division in the mid-2000s, and earmarked as a huge star for the future. Trained by Shawn Michaels and seen as one of the biggest young prospects in the company, Lance Cade was considered by many to be a fixture of the WWE for decades to come.

Sadly, just a few years later he had been fired by Vince McMahon due to drug issues, ending a run that saw him rub shoulders with some of the biggest legends in WWE history. Shortly after that, he was found dead in his home, with a cocktail of drugs causing his heart to give out in August 2010.

The Texan was seen as the future of the WWE. He debuted in his early-20s, becoming one of the youngest ever tag team champions in history (alongside his partner Trevor Murdoch), and engaging in feuds with teams like The Hardy Boyz, and Brian Kendrick (another graduate of Shawn Michaels’ training school) and Paul London.

Sadly, he was fired by the WWE in 2008, before passed away just two years later. Lance Cade’s death made him one of the youngest WWE wrestlers to die, passing on much too soon and leaving so much untapped potential on the table. He was just 29-years old when he died.

Why Did WWE Fire Lance Cade?

Lance Cade was involved in a storyline with Chris Jericho before he was fired by WWE.

WWE fired Lance Cade after he suffered a seizure on a WWE flight, following his abuse of prescription drugs in the WWE.Cade had a long history of an addiction to painkillers. He attended rehab for his addiction after he was fired by the WWE, indicating he was aware of the dangerous situation.

His addiction came to a head during a WWE flight in 2008. After overdosing on various prescription drugs, Lance Cade suffered a seizure in the air, which proved to be life-threatening. Luckily for him, former WWE announcer Lilian Garcia was on hand to give him medical attention, and make the flight crew aware of the predicament.

The seizure Cade suffered on the plane was a huge failure of the WWE Wellness Policy. The policy was instituted by the company in February 2006, following the death of Eddie Guerrero just months prior. It was brought in due to the negative press surrounding his death, and sought to try and avoid any future deaths from drug use in the WWE.

Lance Cade was a very high-profile wellness policy failure for the WWE, leading to his sacking from the WWE.

WWE still drug tested in the years before that, however. Steroids and Marijuana were banned by the company in the early 1990s, as Vince McMahon wanted to avoid any and all drug-based controversies in the wake of the infamous “Steroid Trial”.

It is unknown what drug Lance Cade took on the flight to cause a seizure. It was believed that the medical issue was caused by prescription painkillers that Cade was addicted to, and something many wrestlers over the years have struggled weaning off. According to WrestlingInc, Vince McMahon was furious at the situation, due to it being what he sought to avoid with the WWE Wellness Policy.

The flight was grounded after Lillian Garcia noticed what was happening to Lance Cade, and Cade was rushed to hospital to receive urgent medical care. Due to the situation, WWE had no choice but to fire Lance Cade immediately. His contract was terminated on October 14, 2008. Sadly, his addiction would kill him just two years later.

Lance Cade Spoke About His Firing Months Before He Died

In an interview with PWI in May 2010, Lance Cade spoke all about his time in the WWE, including his struggles with pain killer addiction and his firing from the WWE.

The former WWE Tag Team Champion revealed that he was taking painkillers to deal with an injury, which spiraled into an addiction that saw him taking multiple prescription medication every day, just to be able to carry out his job in the WWE.

He revealed that once he stopped taking the drugs, he struggled to sleep, and suffered withdrawal symptoms that lead to him being fired from the WWE. Lance Cade said this about his drug addiction;

One thing I want to emphasize is that dealing with this injury and the way I handled it, particularly by relying on pain medication, was a mistake. I was able to stop taking those meds without any significant issues when I was released. It dawned on me that it was a really unwise decision. After dedicating over a decade of hard work to get this opportunity, I abruptly quit. It wasn’t about partying; it was merely a way to cope with the demands of the job.

One thing I didn’t realize is how profoundly these substances can disrupt your entire body’s chemical balance. When I stopped using them, I struggled to sleep. On a good night, I was fortunate to get just 45 minutes of sleep.

Jim Ross Says Firing Lance Cade Was A Mistake

On his blog in 2008, Jim Ross wrote about his regret on firing Lance Cade from the WWE, noting that it was a surprise to everybody.

“Lance Cade was abruptly released from his contract this week much to the surprise of many of us. I have always thought that Cade had a wealth of physical potential and he was always a polite young man in my dealings with him.”

“Like many fans, I too did my share of arm chair quarterbacking as to why Cade was not featured in a more prominent role on WWE TV programming. However it seemed that in the past several weeks those issues were being addressed even to the point of Cade defeating HBK on a recent Monday Night Raw.”

“The story that I have read on many internet sites about the reason for Cade’s sudden dismissal isn’t accurate. Many pundits speculate that Cade was dismissed because of a bad performance in a recent TV bout against DX on Raw which is absolutely untrue. Lance’s dismissal had zero to do with his in-ring performances or his lack of ability.”

“Lance Cade was dismissed from the WWE because, like many humans, he made a major league mistake while utilizing bad judgment that cost him his job. This included Lance having a seizure on an airplane and having to have emergency medical care. Luckily, Lilian Garcia was on the same flight and was instrumental in helping Lance get taken to a hospital where a battery of tests were run that luckily determined that there was nothing seriously wrong with the young man such as a brain tumor, etc.”

Everyone makes mistakes, Lord knows I have made plenty in my career, but in this day and time some mistakes just simply can’t be condoned. To some fans, Lance Cade will likely still be perceived as the victim in this matter and his punishment too harsh.

“Under the circumstances of the situation, I don’t know what other decision the WWE could have made. I’m just relieved that it wasn’t me in my former role that would have had to address this matter. I really like this kid and hope that he continues to follow his dreams. Second chances are not foreign in the wrestling business so perhaps that could be in Lance’s future but that’s just a personal observation.”

“Lance Cade is a talented young man whose best days should be ahead of him and I wish him nothing but success. Lance has been knocked down and now it is up to him to get off the canvas and get back in the game. I’m damn sure pulling for him.”

How Did Lance Cade Die?

Lance Cade died on August 13, 2010 in San Antonio Texas. At first, his death was ruled as apparent heart failure, owing to the years of drug abuse on his body. However, a staffer of the San Antonio medical examiner said he had accidentally died from “mixed drug intoxication, complicating a cardiomyopathy”.

It was clear that his painkiller addiction was the leading cause of Lance Cade’s death. He was only 29-years-old when he died, having his entire life in front of him. Early on in his career, Cade was signposted as being a star for the future. Being trained by Shawn Michaels and put with Chris Jericho on TV, he clearly had some big supporters in the WWE.

Lance Cade’s grave in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas.

Lance Cade was even rehired by the WWE before his death. He wrestled in FCW in 2009 (WWE’s developmental territory) upon re-signing, but was released the next year, four months before his death. The Wrestling Observer reported on his rehiring, writing:

Lance McNaught, who wrestled as Lance Cade and had been with the company for 8 years before being let go after a seizure the company believed was due to pain pills, has been rehired.

Cade was getting the biggest push of his career at the time of the incident, including pinning Shawn Michaels in a tag team mach just weeks before being let go. 

Reaction to Lance Cade’s re-signing with the WWE was mixed. Fans were not impressed by his work in the WWE, looking more like a generic “Create-A-Wrestler” than other WWE favorites.

One fan noted that he wasn’t an “Internet darling like Trevor Murdoch” (which may be something ridiculous to hear in 2023, after Murdoch’s run in the NWA), while another claimed “I don’t think he would ever amount to much, because quite frankly, the fans never truly cared about him, and he just didn’t have the charisma to be a top singles competitor”.

Clearly the WWE were not impressed by his work in FCW. Lance Cade was fired again by the company. He wrestled in FCW from September 2009 until April 2010, before he was let go less than a year into his new contract. Lance Cade then moved on to wrestle for All-Japan Pro Wrestling, teaming with Renee Dupree in an attempt to become the next tag team champions.

The pair were set to challenge for the World Tag Team Championship before Lance Cade passed away, never getting that shot at the titles that the pair were dreaming of.

Lance Cade’s Last Match

Lance Cade wrestled his last match on WWE TV on the October 6, 2008 episode of Monday Night Raw. Just one week after he teamed with Chris Jericho to battle D-Generation X, Cade stepped into the ring for a one-on-one match agains his mentor and trainer – the Heart Break Kid, Shawn Michaels.

The match was a no-disqualification match, and despite how short the match was (only lasting three minutes) probably showed one of Cade’s best performances ever in WWE. The Texan came out with some fire against Michaels, showing an aggression and intensity that had been lacking from this run.

He immediately went to work in Shawn Michaels, throwing him out onto the floor and smashing his head into the announce table. Cade then set up another table at ringside, before hitting a Rock Bottom/Spinebuster-style move on the WWE Hall of Famer to send him crashing through the table.

Sadly, Shawn Michaels would rally back and win the match. He blocked a chair shot by Lance Cade, before smashing own of his own into the head of Cade. Michaels then hit Cade multiple times in the legs with the chair, pinning him to win the match just three minutes into the bout.

Lance Cade wrestled two more House Show matches against D’Lo Brown (who made a forgotten return to the WWE during this time) before being fired from the previously mentioned incident on a WWE flight.

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