The WWE has been a land of opportunities for many wrestlers over the years. Every wrestler who comes into the WWE aspires to be a top star, and while only some of them actually end up achieving that dream, the others have to deal with the sad reality that they'll be stuck in the mid-card forever.
While the company regularly signs top talent from around the world, it also has to fire some of its unwanted employees to make up for the new ones. Some of the wrestlers who are released go to achieve big things in some other wrestling promotion or on the independent scene, which leaves the company with a lot of regrets, considering they didn't see their potential. There are others who are rightfully released as they were contributing little to nothing to the WWE product, and the company doesn't care about their releases at all.
There have been some notable wrestlers who have left WWE, with the company regretting releasing them because of their amazing work after leaving, while there are some wrestlers who the company just doesn't bat an eye to after they were gone.
15 Regret: John Morrison
John Morrison had everything needed to be a big WWE star, as he had the moves and the looks which usually work for a wrestler looking to succeed in WWE. He was even given a gimmick of a rock star who showed off his figure, and his wrestling skills were great as well. But Morrison was always held back in the midcard scene and even though he was ready for the main event push towards the end of his WWE career, it never came and he was released in 2010. He has since become the top star in Lucha Underground and Impact Wrestling as well. Morrison also has mainstream attention because of his appearance in GLOW as well as some movies, and could have been the perfect star for the WWE, who will definitely be regretting releasing him back then.
14 Regret: Trent Barreta
Trent Barreta's talent was never really recognized by the WWE, who signed him based on his impressive work on the Independent scene but couldn't capitalize on his skills. Barreta may be remembered for his time in ECW and Smackdown where he was part of some tag teams before becoming a singles wrestler, something he couldn't succeed at. He later became an enhancement talent and spent some time on NXT, before he was released by WWE. But Barreta has since gone on to do great things, forming a formidable team in New Japan Pro Wrestling with Rocky Romero. He's also recently become a solid mid-carder for NJPW, even challenging Kenny Omega for the IWGP United States Championship recently at Power Struggle. WWE is definitely regretting never recognizing his talent, as he could've been a solid tag-team worker or mid-carder for them if they used him properly.
13 Don't Regret: Alex Riley
Alex Riley's career in WWE was filled with some ups and a lot of downs, and he couldn't back up the potential he showed in his initial years in the company. Riley did a great job as the side-kick of The Miz and looked set to go a long way after parting ways, but that never really happened. His in-ring skills were not up to the mark and he was degraded to a lower mid-carder. Riley later transitioned into a color commentator and did that well for some time, before he changed his look and wrestled in NXT. He couldn't win anything there either, losing to other stars and showing little to no improvement. Riley was eventually released and has failed to make a mark elsewhere, proving how the WWE was correct in releasing him.
12 Regret: Carlito
Carlito was quite the "cool" character in the WWE back in the day, when he was a really likeable heel because of his character and how he'd "spit on the face of people who don't want to be cool". The former Intercontinental and US Champion was a terrific mid-carder for the WWE during his years in the company, but his addiction to drugs was a real pain for the company. He got released in 2010 after violating WWE's Wellness Policy and refusing to go to rehab afterwards, but WWE would regret that decision in the long run. Although one can't blame them for taking strict action against drug-abusing wrestlers, Carlito went on to become a top star in the Mexican wrestling circuit after his WWE release. He's done so well that WWE has been wanting to bring him back for years now, proving how much they regret releasing him.
11 Regret: Kenny Omega
Kenny Omega is definitely one of the hottest things in wrestling right now, with "The Cleaner" proving himself to be one of the best wrestlers in the world. Omega is a key part of the Bullet Club and is constantly putting on great content for New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor, helping to build his name as a top guy. But what many fans may not know is that Omega did spend some time wrestling for the WWE as well. It wasn't on the main shows; he was sent to their developmental territory, Deep South Wrestling in 2006. Omega spent some months wrestling for the promotion, but the WWE couldn't recognize his talent, as he was released later on. That was a huge mistake on their part, with Omega's incredible rise proving how wrong WWE was about him.
10 Don't Regret: Eva Marie
Eva Marie was never really liked by many WWE fans because of her complete lack of wrestling skills and how she was just being kept in the company because of her looks. The sexy diva was in the WWE for almost four years, despite not knowing much wrestling. She was used in the reality show Total Divas and was repackaged many times. But Marie showed little to no improvement and the fans kept hating on her, even when she was promoted to Smackdown towards the end. But she was mysteriously suspended last year for violating WWE's Wellness Policy and never made a return to the ring after that. She was officially released earlier this year, and the fans couldn't be happier. The WWE won't be regretting releasing her at all, because it was proven that Marie just didn't have it in her to become a wrestler.
9 Regret: Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley looked to have a bright future when he broke into the wrestling scene in the WWE, where he demolished many heavyweights and asserted himself as a hard-hitting wrestler. He had everything to be a main-eventer, but the WWE didn't trust him to make that jump and always kept him as a higher mid-carder of sorts. Lashley won the ECW Championship but not the WWE one, and the company released him in 2008 after he was out with a long-term injury. Lashley went on to have a decent career in MMA later on, before joining TNA where he was treated like a proper top star. Lashley put on some great matches and seems to have that "top guy" vibe to him nowadays, as TNA unearthed something the WWE could never from him and Vince McMahon will definitely ruin not trusting his potential and releasing him all those years back.
8 Regret: EC3
EC3 was the top star for TNA when it was going through a rather difficult time a few years ago and was the fresh element of a very dull product of the company. He was recognized by some WWE fans, who had seen him in NXT as Derrick Bateman. He did pretty good on NXT and even appeared on the main roster for a few matches before WWE lost faith in him and released him in 2013. He then went on to show his true potential when TNA signed him up and repackaged him as ECW, and he went to become a sensation in the wrestling industry. EC3 was the perfect "top guy" for TNA and also became a big thing in the Independent circuit, as the WWE must be kicking themselves for releasing him all those years ago and never realizing his true potential when he was impressing on NXT.
7 Don't Regret: Ryback
Ryback was quite the brawny individual in the WWE, and he enjoyed a lot of success when he was repackaged as the "Big Guy" and started squashing jobbers. He later moved onto the main-event scene for a bit, but couldn't prove himself to be a big star. WWE moved him to the mid-card where he stayed for the rest of his career and even won the Intercontinental Championship. But Ryback stopped performing for WWE last year when he had a contract dispute with them, wanting more money to perform. WWE didn't budge on this and both sides agreed to part each other. Ryback has yet to perform for a big promotion afterwards. The WWE was correct in not allowing themselves to be manipulated by him, and knowing how he's always trashing their product and wrestling in the minor leagues these days, they wouldn't regret releasing him at all.
6 Regret: Gail Kim
Gail Kim was among the first Asian female wrestlers to be noticed by the WWE, as they signed her up in 2002 and gave her a big push the next year. She won the WWE Women's Championship during her first night on RAW, holding the title for four weeks. But the WWE later lost interest in her, and she was turned into an average diva who took losses to many. Kim left WWE for TNA for a few years, before returning in 2008. But her second stint was worse as she was part of some terrible story-lines and left the WWE in disgust three years later. Kim would go on to do marvelous stuff in TNA later on, legitimizing their Knockout's Division and being the top knockout for years. WWE definitely regretted on not utilizing Kim to her full potential, and she could've easily been WWE's top diva instead of TNA's!
5 Regret: CJ Parker
CJ Parker was quite the unique wrestler in NXT a few years ago, when he used to tout himself as the "Eco-Warrior" who berated the fans for damaging the environment. He actually managed to get decent heat because of his portrayal of the gimmick but was reduced to jobbing to all the new stars of NXT at the time. Parker grew more and more frustrated at his role on NXT during this time and got released in 2015 after a torrid period. While many thought they'd seen the last of him, Parker actually surprised many by joining New Japan Pro Wrestling. He's been doing pretty good in New Japan ever since, challenging for various championships and asserting himself as a proper mid-carder. Parker's been showing a lot of his talent in Japan, and Triple H will definitely be ruining how he dropped the ball on him.
4 Don't Regret: Adam Rose
Adam Rose was quite the entertaining wrestler in the WWE for a period of time, when he burst onto the main roster as the "Party guy" who liked to have fun all the time. His gimmick included him being accompanied by a "bunny", who later helped him get many wins. Although Rose was slightly over at first, it all faded away soon and he had to be repackaged many times. He became a part of the Social Outcasts, and just when things were looking good for him, Rose was arrested for domestic violence. He was later suspended and released from WWE, who were probably glad at getting a reason to release him. Rose could've never become a big asset for WWE with that gimmick and his terrible reputation later on because of that incident made sure that WWE wouldn't feel guilty at all for releasing him.
3 Regret: Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio was a terrific baby-face for the WWE over all the years, as he started to assert himself as a star ever since arriving from WCW in the early 2000s. Mysterio was treated as a mid-carder at first, who got the main-roster push after the death of his good friend Eddie Guerrero and went onto win the World Heavyweight Championship. Mysterio continued being a great fan-favorite for WWE over the years but started losing momentum towards the end. WWE released him amidst much controversy in 2015, but they'd regret it later on. Mysterio has since been doing great things in the Mexican Wrestling scene and Lucha Underground and been a top star everywhere he went. It was reported recently that the WWE wanted to hire him later, but Mysterio isn't interested in a come-back to the company and has left them to ruin releasing him.
2 Regret: Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes was definitely a misused talent in the WWE during his years in the company, as he was always held back by the WWE despite having the ability to do so much more. He portrayed many gimmicks during his time in WWE, but the company killed his career with his "Stardust" gimmick. Rhodes eventually got frustrated at portraying this awful character and got himself released from the WWE last year. He has since gone onto do big things in the Independent circuit, appearing in major promotions like New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor as well. The current ROH Champion is at the peak of his career, and is also part of The Bullet Club as well as a really popular guy in wrestling. The WWE will be ruing their decision at releasing him last year, with Cody's revival proving just how talented a wrestler he is.
1 Don't Regret: Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio had quite the topsy-turvy relationship with the WWE during his two stints in the company, as he burst into the scene in his earlier period in the company. He was "Mexico's greatest export" and was like the Mexican JBL, who had a lot of money and won many matches and championships as a heel. But his second stint wasn't that good, and after an initial reign as United States Champion, Del Rio got frustrated with his part in WWE. He got suspended for violating their Wellness Policy and was released because of it, and he has since gone onto berate the company whenever he could. Del Rio has abused the company and how it's ran multiple times and frustrated many fans with it, as the WWE definitely don't regret releasing Del Rio and are better off without a narcissist like him.