WWE has had some of the greatest wrestling talent in the world at their fingertips and sometimes they find it hard to know what to do with it.
Like many other companies, WWE can only have so many top guys, which means that even though a wrestler is amazing at what they do, they may not get the push they deserve or the Championship they should have won. This is nothing against the superstar, sometimes it’s just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Sixteen years ago, WWE rang in a new millennium with some of the greatest talent in wrestling on their roster, some of which are still a part of the WWE now. As a company, WWE has done well to hold onto the amount of talent that they have for the past few years, with many legends signing contracts and remaining with the company in order to still make public appearances and to be a part of storylines.
Obviously, there has been a lot of talent that have come through WWE’s doors and WWE can’t decide to keep every wrestler under a legends contract, which means that many of them decided to leave the company and pursue other avenues in the wrestling business.
The following is a list of 13 of the best wrestlers who were with WWE in the early 2000s and have since drifted away to do their own thing. Where are they now? And what have they accomplished since?
13. Montel Vontavious Porter
MVP was a big hit in WWE when he made his debut in 2006, as his gimmick was unique and relevant for WWE at that time and he could back it up in the ring.
It came as a shock when MVP was released from WWE in 2010, but since then MVP, like many other wrestlers who have departed from WWE, has decided to try his luck on the independent scene where he has had various levels of success in New Japan Pro Wrestling and TNA. Recently MVP announced that he would be joining Lucha Underground, but he was then released from the company before he debuted after violating the terms of his contract.
12. Brian Kendrick
Brian Kendrick was one of the WWE Superstars who became famous in the early 2000s because the cruiserweight division was packed full of high flying talent. He was then placed with Paul London where he enjoyed a run as a Tag Team Champion before he was known as The Brian Kendrick for his final stretch with the company.
Kendrick has remained on the wrestling circuit since his release from WWE and even made a brief return to WWE in 2015 when he helped train Eva Marie at the WWE Performance Centre, and made an NXT appearance before he once again left WWE. He’s back on the Indie scene and is working on his wrestling school.
11. Kurt Angle
The Olympic Gold Medallist and former World Champion was one of the shining stars of the early 2000s for WWE, but Kurt was granted his release in 2006 due to medical reasons, despite the fact that he has remained on the wrestling scene since.
Kurt Angle signed for TNA merely months after he left WWE and that’s where he remained for more than a decade before he announced his Farewell Tour in 2016. This didn’t mark the end of Kurt Angle’s career though as he then made the switch to the Independent Circuit where he fought against former foe Rey Mysterio and where he continues to wrestle to this day.
10. Diamond Dallas Page
DDP came over to the WWE following the buyout of WCW, but it wasn’t an incredibly noteworthy run. Since his WWE expired in 2002, he gained worldwide acclaim due to DDP Yoga, which is an incredible program that has allowed fellow WWE Superstars Scott Hall and Jake Roberts to overcome many of their demons.
DDP has since re-married in 2015 and adopted two daughters as well as beginning to host his own radio show called DDP Radio. Page made a shock WWE return at WrestleMania 32 when he was a surprise entrant in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal that was eventually won by Baron Corbin.
9. Spike Dudley
Spike Dudley became known as one of the smaller members of The Dudley Boyz in the early 2000s before he was released from the company in 2005 as a cost cutting measure when it was deemed that he was surplus to requirements.
Spike has since spent some time in TNA where he remained on and off until 2013. After he then parted ways with TNA, Spike headed back to the independent circuit where he has remained for the past few years. Recently Spike made an appearance on the Straight outta Dudleyville DVD set that was released by WWE in early 2016. He’s also worked a financial planner since 2012.
X-Pac rose to fame in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a member of the rebel group D-Generation X. Following their split, X-Pac played his part in the resulting feuds but was sidelined through injuries in early 2000 before he departed from the company in 2002.
He has since remained on the wrestling scene over the past 14 years and has been with promotions such as TNA, Xtreme Pro Wrestling, Wrestling Society X and the National Wrestling Alliance as well as making many returns to WWE to support his friends Kevin Nash and Shawn Michaels when they were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
7. Mick Foley
The Hardcore Legend was at his most dangerous during the 1990s and early 2000s, having taken on four different personalities throughout his WWE career. Mick departed from WWE in 2001 before returning and then leaving once again in 2003, before returning once more and leaving in 2008.
Foley left his mark in WWE and has since made many returns to WWE as a way of giving his approval to the new talent, but he has also spent some time in TNA and on the independent circuit. Recently it has been announced that Mick Foley and his family will be the subject of a new reality TV series named Holy Foley on the WWE Network that is set to debut in May.
6. Jeff Hardy
The Charismatic Enigma was one of the human highlight reels of WWE in the early 2000s before his first WWE release. WWE then took a gamble and brought Jeff back in 2006 where they allowed him to become WWE Champion. Once again Hardy violated their Wellness Policy and forced WWE’s hand when they released him again in 2009.
Since then Jeff has made a name for himself in TNA as both himself and Willow, but is unable to appear during their European tours due to previous convictions. Jeff has remained with TNA despite rumours of a WWE return. He made his return to TNA after injury in January 2016 and announced that he had signed a new contract with the company that would run until the end of 2016.
5. Molly Holly
The former Women’s Champion and one of very few women to have won the Hardcore Championship was released from WWE in 2005 when it was rumored that she was unhappy that WWE was beginning to care more about their female wrestlers looks than their wrestling talent.
Molly has since toured the independent circuit as well as taking public speaking classes and earning a licence in massage therapy. She has made sporadic WWE appearances since her departure and was even a part of Table for Three on the WWE Network in 2015 when she was joined by Alundra Blayze and Ivory. Recently she was in attendance at the 2016 Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
The former WWE and WCW Superstar was one of the best known superstars in the late 1990s and early 2000s, mainly due to his incredible undefeated streak that was counted at 173-0 in WCW.
Following his departure from WWE in late 2004, Goldberg has been a part of many different projects. In 2006, he became a colour commentator for MMA promotion World Fighting Alliance for their King of the Streets pay-per-view before then moving into acting, debuting his own podcast, and launching his own line of exclusive memorabilia crates with all the profits going to Wounded Warriors of South Florida. He’s also featured at a few Legends of Wrestling Events over the last couple of years.
3. Gail Kim
Widely considered to be one of the greatest female wrestlers of her generation, Gail Kim made her mark on WWE when she won the Women’s Championship in her first ever match. She was released by the company as a cost cutting measure in 2004 before being rehired in 2008 after a successful spell in TNA.
Gail only lasted with WWE another three years and decided to leave the company in 2011 stating that she would never return because she felt that the female talent were being held back. Gail has since climbed the ranks in TNA and is still one of the best female wrestlers in the world.
Rhyno was at the top of his game as a member of The Alliance in 2001 before WWE’s brand split came into effect and Rhyno was released from his contract after a public argument following WrestleMania 21.
Rhyno then remained in the spotlight after he made the switch to TNA where he remained until 2010. Following his TNA success he headed over to Ring of Honor in 2011, before he was re-called by WWE and began to appear on their newly rebranded NXT show. Rhyno was well received in NXT and has remained a part of the company since.
1. Billy Kidman
The former Cruiserweight Champion made the switch to WWE after they purchased WCW in 2001 and despite being sidelined with an injury during the invasion, he still managed to win his record fourth Cruiserweight Championship in late 2001.
He was released by WWE in 2005 following a disagreement with management, but has remained with the company since in a different format. He first began helping to train at FCW before he was then hired by WWE as a road agent and has since made several WWE appearances as part of the team that breaks up WWE brawls when needed. He also made several appearances on the JBL show in 2014.
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