The life for a wrestler leaving WWE is difficult in many ways. Those that want to continue their wrestling careers will have to prove a lot in a new promotion or on the independent scene to show fans that they are worth seeing. Others to try to get into new careers will have to find a way to navigate through the new world after spending years working for a company that is unlike anything else in the world. The schedule, physical pain and mental game that come with a spot in WWE can see things go either way for wrestlers leaving the company.
Some performers thrive in other promotions or other industries thanks to their name value and talent. Other wrestlers will struggle immensely to figure out the right way to find success after losing a cushy spot on the WWE roster. We'll take a look at the stories regarding wrestlers to recently leave WWE that make the company look bad. WWE tries to get as much good publicity as possible, but everyone has voice today to share their experiences. This list will feature fifteen wrestlers along with their confessions that WWE would not want the fans talking about.
14 Cody Rhodes: Made More Money This Year Than Any Time In WWE
The success of Cody Rhodes has motivated wrestlers all over the world. Rhodes proved that WWE not only wasn’t needed to make a living, but he improved his standing in the business after requesting his release last year. Cody has become an important member of the Bullet Club at the most popular time period with the Young Bucks, Kenny Omega and Marty Scurll.
The Bullet Club members have become huge stars with their merchandise being the top sellers in Hot Topic retail stores. Rhodes is even getting his own Funko Pop figure in 2018. It shows that top wrestlers outside of WWE can get other business opportunities aside from potential big contracts in other promotions. Cody claims this was his best financial year in wrestling after years being on the WWE main roster.
13 Alex Riley: Rumors of John Cena Ruining His Career Are True
Alex Riley has left the wrestling business after flopping in multiple roles for WWE. The current goal of Riley is to make it as an actor. Riley has not secured any relevant roles aside from the cameo on the Netflix G.L.O.W series which he just played a wrestler for one episode. Many people in WWE management once viewed him as a future star in his early career.
Rumors of John Cena souring on him and burying him in the locker room seemed to coincide with WWE quitting on him. Riley did a few interviews and podcast appearances after G.L.O.W and hosts naturally asked about Cena. Without revealing what exactly went down, Riley confirmed that most of the stories shared from fellow wrestlers were true. Cena did have an issue with Riley that hurt his career in WWE.
12 Austin Aries: Released While Injured
Austin Aries appearing on Talk is Jericho following his WWE release broke a lot of surprising news. Prior rumors of Aries requesting his release were wrong and he was happily employed until getting the boot. Aries did have optimism but one thing that seemed horrible was the timing. WWE released Aries as he was recovering from an injury suffered in their ring.
To WWE’s credit, they allowed Aries to continue rehabbing with the medical staff and equipment to get the best recovery process possible. It is still a bad look to publicly fire a wrestler while he is dealing with an injury that came on company time. Aries has returned to the ring on the independent circuit hoping to have another strong chapter to his career.
11 Darren Young: Fired The Day After He Did Promotional Work For Them
The most recent releases from WWE saw the company fire Darren Young, Emma and Summer Rae all on the same day. Young had been off television for quite some time after a failed mid-card push in mid-2016. WWE tried to repackage Young as a singles wrestler with legend Bob Backlund as his manager and trainer.
It became obvious that WWE didn’t feel he should have another chance as they let him go last month. The wild timing saw him appear at a Los Angeles Clippers game the night before as part of WWE Night promoting the company. Young worked for WWE just hours before the decision was made to release him from his contract. Darren has not posted anything on Twitter since getting released. His most recent tweets show him promoting WWE at the Clippers game.
10 Ryback: WWE Didn't Apologize To Tyson Kidd For Career-Ending Injury
Ryback has revealed many things that WWE would be upset about on his podcast. The news of Ryback parting ways with WWE saw him go out in a loud way. Ryback wrote a blog blasting the company for paying the talent unfairly and being horrible to deal with. WWE and Ryback will likely never do business again, so he blasts them regularly revealing dark stories on his podcast.
One incident featured him cursing out Vince McMahon and WWE management on the podcast. Ryback was livid that the company showed little remorse towards Tyson Kidd after his career-ending injury in a WWE dark match. According to the Big Guy, McMahon and others didn’t apologize to Kidd for the injury. Kidd ended up getting a backstage job with WWE, but he didn’t get offered a job until a while after the incident. Ryback felt this was out of line.
9 Bubba Ray: Management Quit On Singles Push At The Last Minute
The one year return run of the Dudley Boyz in WWE saw them have a lackluster run. Aside from a feud with New Day that saw them lose every major match, Bubba Ray and D-Von failed to do much of note. WWE clearly viewed them as a nostalgic act in their older ages. The prior run of Bubba in Impact Wrestling as Bully Ray made fans wonder if we would see him get pushed on his own.
D-Von ended up taking a backstage producer role with WWE when the Dudleyz saw their contracts expire. The veteran helps put together matches for WWE right now starting a new career in the other aspect of wrestling. Bubba claimed he was planned to have a run as Bully Ray during teases of the two men breaking up. However, WWE changed their minds viewing the character as a PR risk and Bubba was let go.
8 Simon Gotch: WWE Makes Life Miserable
The Vaudevillains showed potential in NXT as a tag team with the combination of Aiden English and Simon Gotch. Both men worked well together on the smaller scale and actually won the NXT Tag Team Championship on their first major arena show for TakeOver: Brooklyn. The Vaudevillians however struggled to get over on the main roster and had a horrible run until Gotch was released.
English is now working a singles character on the SmackDown brand and Gotch is trying to figure out a way to find credibility on the independent circuit. Gotch has been outspoken about his unhappiness in WWE. A confession saw him reveal a story when a wrestler asked how he was doing at a WWE show and he responded that he was miserable. According to Gotch, the release was a blessing to improve his life.
7 Brandi Rhodes: WWE Held Her Back
Brandi Rhodes chose to leave WWE when her husband Cody Rhodes was granted his release from the company. The couple both went to the free agent market working for multiple promotions. WWE only used Brandi as a ring announcer, but she wanted to either wrestle or manage. There was also the case of WWE trying to limit the opportunities outside of WWE for their contracted talent.
Brandi not only supported her husband, but she also wanted to reach her potential in various ways. The appearances in Ring of Honor and other promotions keep her involved in the world of wrestling going to shows with her husband. A bigger career opportunity saw her sign on to be on the WAGS: Atlanta reality show. This definitely would have been shut down by WWE and Brandi is proving why she had valid reasons to leave.
6 Sami Callihan: Leaving WWE Saved His Career
The career of Sami Callihan appears to be booming. Callihan has worked for Lucha Underground, Impact Wrestling and New Japan all this year. A prior NXT run as Solomon Crowe saw fans forgot he was even in the company. Every wrestler wants to work for WWE at some point, but Callihan realized that it wasn’t what he had hoped for or expected.
The lack of a push left him off NXT television until requesting his release from the company. Callihan has worked consistently on the independent circuit traveling the world to build back up his name value. He even runs his own promotion called Pro Wrestling Revolver. According to Callihan, the decision to leave WWE was the best thing to save his career from completely falling apart in NXT.
5 Alberto Del Rio: New WWE Contracts Worth Less Than Impact And Lucha Underground
Alberto Del Rio has called out some of the young wrestlers signing with WWE for taking less money than they are worth. The dream of wrestling for WWE along with the opportunity to getting a sweet top spot eventually to improve income make wrestlers accept a lower contract to sign. Most of the United Kingdom wrestlers and Cruiserweights to sign for WWE work on extremely low contracts.
Del Rio claims that wrestlers in Impact Wrestling and Lucha Underground make more than a lot of the recently hired wrestlers. It was a complaint that Alberto had for wrestlers harming the market value for others looking to get signed. Del Rio has been viewed as being bitter towards WWE for how his time there ended. Most reports however confirm that Alberto’s comments are true about WWE offering really low contracts to new performers joining them.
4 Adam Rose: WWE's Wellness Policy Is BS
The career of Adam Rose in WWE feels like it was so long ago, but he only got released back in 2016. Rose had a popular gimmick in NXT that failed horribly on the main roster. Things would reach a low point where Rose got suspended for failing a drug test to violate the Wellness Policy. A couple of other personal issues caused WWE to cut bait and fire Rose.
Rose has struggled to find relevant on the independent circuit and remains insistent that his suspension was unfair. The claims are that his doctor prescribed the medication that failed the drug test. Rose’s doctor was “appalled” at the idea of this leading to a work suspension and actually questioned the integrity of the Wellness Policy.
3 Jack Swagger: WWE Tries To Hurt Indy Promotions
Jack Swagger left WWE this year after a long tenure treading water with the company. WWE didn’t feel Swagger had the personality or charisma to receive another push after he flopped as World Champion earlier in his career. The departure of Swagger was mutually agreed on by him and WWE both believing that they would be better off without each other.
Swagger has embraced the independent circuit and seems to be enjoying life these days. An active schedule sees Swagger work for various promotions with his wife often being his manager. Swagger recently posted a video calling out WWE for running a live event in a market where his independent promotion was going to be. According to Swagger, WWE does this all the time to quietly try to hurt the independent companies. Swagger called for the fans to defend independent wrestling against the power of WWE.
2 Wade Barrett: Everyone in Nexus Was Angry About Losing to John Cena
The failure of Nexus is viewed as one of the biggest disappointments in recent years. Wade Barrett led the group of young talent to create some memorable moments taking over the show. John Cena was the first main target of the Nexus group giving them instant credibility. However, feuding with Cena ended up being the major reason why they had such a short shelf life as a hot act.
Barrett left WWE in 2016 and recently started doing more interviews discussing his wrestling career. Wade confirmed that he and the other members of Nexus were upset about having to lose their SummerSlam 2010 main event match to Cena. They knew it would kill their momentum and they were right. Barrett’s career suffered for it in the long run and he is trying to start a new life as an actor.
2. Cameron: WWE Release Came At Worst Possible Time
WWE wants the perception of fans to view all wrestlers under contract as being rich. One of the positives to come from this belief is fans will believe fired wrestlers have saved enough money to live comfortably for a while before moving on to another chapter. Cameron however revealed that her life was in shambles after her WWE release.
The long term relationship with her ex-boyfriend ended shortly before her release. Cameron also revealed that she made a poor investment that financially hurt her in a major way. The timing of WWE firing her saw her life become quite terrifying. Cameron seems to have bounced back with her work in modeling and other fields, but it was scary early on. WWE wouldn’t want fans to hear that level of fear in a former star’s life.
1 Chris Jericho: Wrestling Kenny Omega Is Worth Breaking WWE Promise
The wrestling world was shocked when Chris Jericho appeared in a video package at a New Japan show. Jericho challenged Kenny Omega to a match at the historic Wrestle Kingdom show at the beginning of 2018. Omega is considered the best wrestler in the world after having countless classic matches this year to become the hottest thing outside of WWE.
Jericho has said for over a decade now that he would never wrestle outside of WWE again in his career. TNA was turned down numerous times by Jericho due to this promise. The reason Jericho broke this stance in his own words is that facing Omega is a major match that can be positive for the industry. Jericho views Omega as such a special talent that he broke his promise to remain with WWE forever. It shows just how special Omega is despite the fact that he never wrestled for WWE.