Chris Hero (Kassius Ohno in WWE), was released by WWE in April 2020 as part of the company-wide cutbacks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hero had been labeled as a "player-coach" by some parties as he was active on NXT and NXT UK television while helping out with certain classes at the WWE Performance Center.
Speaking on Can Chris Hero Save Wrestling? with Conrad Thompson, Hero recalled receiving the phone call from WWE and what they told him.
"I thought, I wasn't 100% sure, but I thought I was safe because I was with NXT and our deals were less significant than main roster deals. When you're not working for weeks at a time and you're like, 'Man, I keep getting this paycheck.' It was in the back of my head, 'maybe the ax falls.' Then I get my call at the end of the day. Once people start getting released, I was sending out messages and checking on people. It's a shitty thing. I've been fired before and hurt before, so I know what it's like to go through those things. All day long, I'm texting people, and in the back of my head I'm like, 'Haven't gotten a call yet.' It was like 5 p.m. or something and I get a call from Canyon Ceman, our talent relations guy. 'Hey, what's going on Canyon?' 'Yeah....' 'Okay, I figured as much.' He had expressed to me that there was a future for me in the company as a coach or a producer, and that had been expressed to me for years. To the point where, sometimes, it's a backhanded compliment," said Hero.
Hero went on to recall a meeting with Canyon in 2012 where he was told he would be a great coach and how it inspired him. Hero would go on to have one of the most memorable Independent runs from 2013 to 2017 after he was released by FCW.
"I had a meeting with Canyon in 2012 and he told me, 'I think you'd be better suited to be a coach.' I got fired up when he told me that then and I'm like, 'I know I'm going to be a good coach, but I want to work.' At NXT, they don't have a situation where you have the benefits of being a coach and the authority and also have matches. It's a weird part of their system that needs some work. I told Canyon, 'I appreciate that, but not until I'm done in the ring. I don't want to coach talent and resent them when they don't live up to my standards because I can't also wrestle.' If I can wrestle and coach, I can be a better coach because there's no animosity built up. If I was being forced to quit wrestling, that's where the animosity comes from. That's not a situation I wanted to put myself into," said Hero.
Hero clarified that he wasn't outright offered a coaching position by Canyon on the phone, but that if he wanted to return to NXT as a coach, the option was on the table for him. He still believes he can join WWE as a coach at any point, but that he still has things to accomplish in the ring.
Hero dropped the Kassius Ohno name and returned as Chris Hero, but he has not wrestled during the pandemic.
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