Additional Source: The Wrestling Observer Newsletter
Here are some details regarding The Sandman’s release from WWE on September 11.
When they were on tour in South Africa in early September, he got drunk with some of the wrestlers before a flight. Road agent Ricky Steamboat was sitting in front of a wasted Sandman. Sandman put an unlit cigarette in his mouth and Steamboat turned around to tell him that you can’t smoke on an airplane. Sandman scoffed back at Steamboat by saying that the cigarette wasn’t lit and that he didn’t have a lighter on him anyways. It was simply in his mouth for the ‘taste’. Ahh, addictions.
Ayways, on one of the shows on the tour, due to time constraints, some wrestlers were pulled from the show, including Sandman. Sandman thought it was Steamboat’s way of getting back at him. He then called Johnny Ace asking for his release from World Wrestling Entertainment. A few days later on September 11, Ace gave him his release from the company.
Prior to his release from the company, McMahon wanted to turn him heel and give him a significant run on Raw because the brand is desperately lacking heels. McMahon was a big fan of The Sandman’s unique character, hence his promotion from ECW to Raw back in June.