The current landscape of the WWE is by no means strapped for talent. On the contrary, there’s a logjam of talent currently employed by the Stamford, Connecticut based promotion. Moreover, the WWE’s developmental territory, NXT, has the likes of Asuka, Ember Moon, Bobby Roode, Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura that figure to be top tier talents in the women’s division and main event/upper mid card respectively.
By the way, arguably the two best in ring tag teams, DIY and the Revival are also currently at NXT. When the forenamed names debut on the main roster fans will rejoice as there are a number of compelling feuds they can be placed in.
Despite their being a rush of talent WWE fans will eventually see on WWE programming, this isn’t to say that there aren’t future endeavored stars they don’t miss. Here, we take a look at eight recently released wrestlers we miss and seven we don’t.
15. MISS: Christian
If you didn’t know by now, Christian (along with Edge) totally reeks of awesomeness (see what I did there?). Christian has held gold on numerous occasions during his time with WWE ; he is a 2x World Heavyweight Champion, a 9x Tag Team Champion and a 4x Intercontinental Champion. Moreover, the only belts that alluded Christian during his run with the WWE were the WWE Championship and United Stated Championship. Christian’s final match was not something that was announced by him or by WWE as neither party expected it to be his final match. In March of 2014 Christian came out victorious against Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler in a fatal four way to determine the number one contended for the Intercontinental Championship. Shortly after, Christian was diagnosed with a concussion. In May of 2016, Christian revealed he had actually been released in 2015 because WWE would refuse to clear him as a result of his concussion history. A proper send off would be nice, WWE!
14. DON’T MISS: Adam Rose
Let’s take a look at Adam Rose’s timeline from October 2015 to May 2016. In October of 2015, Rose’s sister passed away at the hands of a heroin overdosage. On April 16th, Rose was suspended for sixty days due to his second violation of WWE’s Wellness Policy. On May 11th, Rose was arrested in Hillsborough County, Florida for a domestic violence charge along with being charged for tampering with a witness. During this time period, Rose was certainly going through a lot. Regardless of your opinion on Rose, it was crystal clear that he needed to step away from the ring. WWE did the right thing by releasing Rose on May 23rd, 2016; he currently competes on the indies under the moniker Aldo Rose and now sports a bald head as he has ditched his long locks.
13. MISS: Santino Marella
To this day Santino Marella remains the one and only superstar that can lay acclaim to being crowned Miss WrestleMania. In addition to the forenamed prestigious honor, Marella is a former 2x Intercontinental Champion (with his first reign coming on his first night as a debuting fan against the “Samoan Bulldozer”, Umaga), 1x United States Champion and a 1x Tag Team Champion with Vladimir Kozlov. Marella was relegated to a comedic act for the majority of his tenure within WWE, but despite the demotion, Marella thrived in the role. Whether Marella was referring to “Y2J” as “KYJ” or placing his face on Marie Kanellis’ Playboy cover or having a tea party with Sheamus and Kozlov or his time with Beth Phoenix as the “Glamerella” duo, Marella provided audiences with laughter more often than not.
12. DON’T MISS: Cameron
Alongside Naomi, Cameron made up one half of the Funkadactyls. Cameron was clearly the weak link of the duo and once the pair went their separate ways (as a result of Cameron turning heel against Naomi), Cameron struggled to gain her footing as a singles competitor. The Los Angeles, California native would more often than not rack up L’s in the loss column as opposed to W’s in the win column. Cameron’s last appearance in WWE would be in April of 2015 as she opted to take her talents to
South Beach Full Sail to hone her skills in NXT. Cameron appeared on NXT programming from November of 2015 to February of 2016. In May of 2016 Cameron was released by WWE and with the Women’s division having the amount of talent it does today it was probably for the best.
11. MISS: Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan was instantaneously released in July 2015 as a result of a profanity laden rant that demeaned blacks. Amongst Hogan’s comments were the following, ““I mean, I’d rather if she was going to f–k some n****r, I’d rather have her marry an 8-foot-tall n****r worth a hundred million dollars! Like a basketball player! I guess we’re all a little racist. F–king n****r”. The comments were in reference to the Hulkster’s daughter, Brooke, dating a man of black descent. The WWE had no choice but to let Hogan go. However, the question now is, is Hogan ready to be welcomed back after a year and a half? Hogan is amongst the most polarizing wrestlers of all-time with most of those who grew up in the eighties and early nineties wanting him back sooner rather than later. On the other hand, most of those raised in the later nineties and beyond could and would rather do without him.
10. DON’T MISS: El Torito
El Torito first appeared on WWE programming in September of 2013 and with his appearance he actually surpassed Hornswoggle as the shortest person on the roster at the time being as he stood 4’5” and Swoggle stood 4’6”. El Torito was aligned with the Los Matadores, Diego and Fernando, who are better known today as the Shining Stars, Primo and Epico. In the role, Torito appeared as a bull and would accompany the duo to ringside. Torito practically never engaged in an official match during his stint with the exception of his feud with Hornswoggle which is most remembered for their WeeLC match at Extreme Rules. In September of 2015, Torito was put through a table by the Dudleys and he wasn’t shown on television again with the Matadores. In May of 2016, Torito was future endeavored.
9. MISS: Damien Sandow
October 28th, 2013 seems like an eternity ago but that was the last time when Damien Sandow was looked at as a possible main event player. Sandow challenged John Cena for the World Heavyweight Championship via cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase as he hoped to capitalize on Cena who was suffering from an arm injury. Unfortunately, Sandow was unsuccessful in his match versus the captain of “Cenation”. Sandow would frequently lose the bulk of his matches after losing to Cena and was given a gimmick of an impersonator. Sandow impersonated the likes of Bret Hart, LeBron James, Sherlock Holmes, Abraham Lincoln, Magneto and Mr. McMahon. With a gimmick like this, WWE set Sandow up to fail and fail miserably at that. Yet, he was entertaining. Sandow then was made the Miz’s personal stunt double as Damien Mizdow. In this role Sandow became one of the most over superstars on the roster. Despite the audience loving Sandow, he was inexplicably released. Sandow succeeded in any and every gimmick the E placed in him and fans appreciate the versatility the former “Intellectual Savior of the Masses” brings to the table.
8. DON’T MISS: Brad Maddox
The former Raw General Manager Brad Maddox has the likes of Mike Adamle and the Anonymous Raw General Manager to thank for not being the worst GM in the history of the program. Rest easy Maddox, this doesn’t clear you from being one of the worst. Nor does it clear you from having one of the most unmemorable tag teams in recent memory along with Adam Rose. Maddox was released in November 2015 as he made the unwise decision to use the term “cocky pricks” in a promo prior to a dark match. Four days later, Maddox was released on November 25th, 2015 (one day prior to Thanksgiving). Maddox now sees himself on the indy scene where he has rebranded himself as “Mad Braddox” which is quite the unique and creative name considering his WWE persona.
7. MISS: King Barrett
On May 6th, 2016 Wade Barrett was released one month early as his contract was set to expire in June of the calendar year. However, the writing on the wall was apparent to both the WWE and Barrett as the “King of Bad News” shot down a contract extension in August of 2015. Upon Barrett declining the extension, he further floundered on the card as the weakest link in the League of Nations alongside Alberto Del Rio, Rusev and Sheamus. He also had prolonging injury issues during his alignment with the stable that deterred him. Yet, while this may be the lasting image some fans have of Barrett, lets not forget he spearheaded one of the hottest angles of the decade as leader of the original Nexus in 2010. Barrett played the villainous role of a heel to a tee and its a shame that WWE didn’t give him an opportunity with the company’s most prestigious prize, the WWE World Championship.
6. DON’T MISS: Ryback
It seems like its been eons since Ryback was headlining PPV’s facing off against the likes of John Cena and CM Punk. Ryback was about as one dimensional in the ring as they come and could be seen as being in the driver’s seat in reference to his release. In May of 2016, Ryback had relayed to WWE higher ups that he would not be participating in a battle royal match due to the discrepancy in pay wrestlers receive. It was Ryback’s belief that wrestlers should be compensated equally as opposed to individuals receiving differing amounts. In addition, Ryback wasn’t happy with the direction of his character. Ryback was sent home as a result of this incident and was finally released in August of 2016. Ryback was pushed to the moon and beyond on numerous occasions and failed to stabilize himself as a main event player despite all his opportunities.
5. MISS: Zeb Colter
Hearing the words “Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Paul Heyman” is gospel when Heyman walks out onto the ramp at a WWE show. The problem is, Heyman’s appearances are far and between as he is aligned with Brock Lesnar who appears very scarcely. While Heyman may very well be the greatest manager in WWE history, the WWE is clearly at a shortage of great managers at the time being. Zeb Colter did wonders for Jack Swagger and even catapulted him in to the main event scene with the original heel “we the people” gimmick which frowned upon illegal persons within the United States. There are plenty of superstars that could benefit from a pairing with Colter, particularly those that are weak on the mic. Well, those superstars could benefit as long as Colter isn’t told he has to make a gimmick such as the “MexAmerica” one he had with Alberto Del Rio work.
4. DON’T MISS: ZZ
The self-proclaimed “King of the Bayou” ZZ shocked the world when he made it to the finals of Season 6 of Tough Enough. ZZ was clearly the most out of shape competitor in the competition as he was often winded during activities (especially those that were cardiovascular activities), the one that received the least amount of praise and the most amount of criticism from the show’s coaches and the one who some how, some way survived by the skin of his teeth week in and week out. What else did ZZ do wrong, you ask? Well, on August 25th, 2015 ZZ made history on the final episode of Tough Enough as he became the lone person in wrestling history to put on an unwatchable match with Jason Statham’s doppleganger, Cesaro. ZZ was released in July of 2016.
3. MISS: Daniel Bryan
While fans can see Daniel Bryan week in and week out on the blue brand, it isn’t in a role that is preferable to either Bryan or the fans. On February 8th, 2016 Bryan announced his retirement in Seattle, Washington as WWE’s medical doctors refused to clear him based on his prolonged injury history. It wasn’t that Bryan wanted to retire, it was the WWE asserting its power over him and making him retire. The quotes from Bryan’s speech that further emphasize this most are, “trust me, I don’t want to be doing this anymore than you guys want me to be doing this [..] I trained like I could come back and I could wrestle. I was ready at a moment’s notice if WWE needed me, I wanted to come back and wrestle because this – I have loved this in a way I have never loved anything else”. Bryan’s desire to return to the WWE squared circle is sky high.
2. DON’T MISS: Hornswoggle
Prior to the Cruiserweight Championship returning in 2016, the final WWE Cruiserweight Champion was the 4’6” Hornswoggle. This belt was held by the likes Eddie Guerrero, Chris Jericho, Billy Kidman, Dean Malenko and Rey Mysterio. For Hornswoggle to be given the last reign with a belt that was held my greats such as the forenamed names was blasphemous and it made a total mockery of the belt itself. Moreover, Hornswoggle was behind two angles that had the potential of being pivotal angles. For one, he was named as Vince McMahon’s bastard son which neither provided for comedic laughter nor did it propel any character to greater heights. Secondly, he was revealed as the Anonymous Raw General Manager after a year long angle that made the revelation nothing short of lackluster. Better yet, was there any good Hornswoggle provided during his tenure?
1. MISS: Cody Rhodes
On May 21st, 2016 Cody Rhodes asked WWE for his release and on May 22nd, his release was granted. The thirty-one year old Rhodes from Marietta, Georgia had desired to return to his original persona of Cody Rhodes and even made the creative team’s job as easy as it could possibly be by presenting them with numerous storylines for the Rhodes character. However, the creative team eschewed from all storylines pertaining to the Rhodes characters. Rhodes has been appearing on the independent circuit since June of 2016 as well as in TNA, ROH and NJPW. Rhodes is arguably the hottest name on the indies at the moment as he has put on stellar matches with the likes of Kurt Angle, DIY’S Tommaso Ciampa, Chris Hero and Zack Sabre Jr. Selfishly WWE fans would love to see Rhodes back in the WWE; but, it’s clear that he’s enjoying much more success and opportunities in the indies.