As promotions are presently unloading chunks of their rosters in the wake of troubling allegations and stories, one recent termination appears to be unrelated, but is nonetheless headline-grabbing. Tessa Blanchard, while reigning as IMPACT Wrestling World Champion, was let go after a period of inactivity, and an apparent inability to come to terms on a new deal. As a result, Blanchard was stripped of the championship, making for even more difficult times for the long-surviving IMPACT.
Though it might seem weird to see a top champion dethroned via exodus, it's actually happened numerous times throughout the years. Whether it's a contract dispute or some other acrimonious situation with the office, top belts have been forfeited as the wrestlers in question have headed out the door. When that happens, the promotion generally ends up with egg on its face, unless there's a damn good reason for the events transpiring.
In light of the recent development involving Blanchard, let's look back at other examples of a major titleholder leaving a company, and their championship status, behind.
5. Stan Hansen (AWA, 1986)
Hansen was reportedly supposed to drop the title to Nick Bockwinkel, but refused, on the grounds that Giant Baba (the head of All Japan, where Hansen also wrestled) told him not to do the honours, since he was booking him as a top guy, and "kayfabe" had to reflect that.
So Hansen left with the physical belt, while the championship status was defaulted to Bockwinkel. Hansen went on to "defend" the belt in Japan, and when AWA demanded it back, the irascible ex-champ ran over the strap with his truck and mailed it back, still caked in mud.