With WrestleMania just around the corner, so to come the annual pink slips that get handed out as management trims the fat off the roster. While Vince and others will determine the future of many of the entertainers, there are others that will have to make a decision on their own, whether to hang up the boots or head off on other ventures with various other promotions.
With a new influx of talent taking over the spotlight in recent months, there are a number of long time WWE employees who have been pushed to the side in favor of a fresh face. While there are many rumors of wrestlers both male and female along with tag teams that are expected to make their debut or return to the biggest wrestling company on the circuit, there are equal amounts of stories and rumors of those planning to depart.
While last year didn't see the departure of many big names, aside from Alberto Del Rio and Cody Rhodes, this year could and should be different as a number of legends and long dedicated wrestlers will be walking away from the WWE.
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15 Primo and Epico
People didn't care about Primo and Epico when they had masks on their heads and people care even less now that they don't. Even when they managed to capture the WWE Tag Team Championship belts off of Air Boom way back in 2012 most people didn't care. Now, as The Shining Stars, a pair of timeshare selling con men, the duo often walk to the ring in silence, wrestle in silence and head backstage in silence.
Although the real life cousins have in-ring talent, their appeal to the WWE Universe is minimal and, as a result, the clock is ticking on how long they'll remain with the WWE. While there is a chance that a return by Carlito could bring some popularity to the team, chances of the return by the apple chewing Puerto Rico star are highly unlikely. A move to Lucha Underground or ROH would give the tag team a much needed re-branding (again).
14 Tyler Breeze
As one half of the useless comedy team Breezango (lame name for a lame team), Prince Pretty has been treading water since making his debut on the main roster card in 2015. Following a ho hum feud with Dolph Ziggler, Breeze encountered a lengthy losing streak, which included matches to other low-mid card talent.
After a double heel/face turn with R-Truth, Fandango and Goldust, another comedic series of matches would take place with the foursome. Now given one of the worst tag team storylines in recent history, Breeze and Fandango are walking around backstage and to the ring dressed as fashion police (or bad 90s strippers, your choice) which doesn't really strike fear into the hearts of the current SmackDown tag team roster. Considering the duo hasn't won a match since November 2016, leaving the WWE wouldn't be much of a loss for Breeze. At 29 years old, a run through the indie scene could be what is best for business.
13 Darren Young
There was once a lot of hope for The Prime Time Players back in 2012, but unfortunately the duo of Young and Titus O'Neil disbanded before they were given a fair shake, despite being over with the WWE Universe. Two years after they paired up, Young and O'Neil squared off against each other in singles competition before reuniting almost one year later. With Young returning to action following a torn ACL, the New Jersey native finally captured his first WWE Tag Team Championship. Unfortunately less than three months later, PTP would drop the title to New Day (whom they beat for the belts) and this proved to be the beginning of the end of Young's time in the spotlight.
Even with Bob Backlund as his life coach, Young has struggled to maintain a significant role in the WWE and has been shelved with a serious shoulder injury. While he doesn't have the charisma of his former partner, Young does have enough skill to make a run with one of the other wrestling companies, be it TNA, ROH or Lucha Underground.
12 Bo Dallas
Look what time away and a rebuilt character did for Bo Dallas' brother William Rotunda (Bray Wyatt). After a decent run through NXT, Dallas has struggled in his full time stint on the main roster. While his Bo-Lieve character made for some humorous moments, as did his role with The Social Outcasts (along with Heath Slater, Curtis Axel and Adam Rose), Dallas has yet to live up to his potential or legacy of his family (his father, Mike Rotunda aka IRS, his uncle Barry Windham and his grandfather Blackjack Mulligan).
After the foursome disbanded, Dallas once again returned to his Bo-Lieve storyline, just this time with a little more edge, beating down local jobbers. Although it's far fetched to see Dallas in the main event lineup, a run at the US or Intercontinental Championships shouldn't be out of expectation. However, considering his lack of connection with fans, don't expect Dallas to be with the company much longer to even have that opportunity.
11 Dana Brooke
She has the body, the look and youth on her side, but unfortunately for Dana Brooke, it seems like she is more likely to return to success as a bodybuilder or fitness model than she would have in the WWE.
After being called up from NXT to the Raw brand, Brooke teamed up with Charlotte as her protege, apparently to learn the ropes. For a while this storyline seemed to work and then following an apparent break-up with Ric Flair's daughter (an event that was never followed through on), Brooke has been left backstage. With numerous botches and lack of main show talent, Brooke has proven that her promotion from NXT was far too soon, one that could see her on the receiving end of a pink slip come the annual WrestleMania roster cuts. The only thing she has on the other wrestlers on this list is youth, something than can potentially save her.
10 Sin Cara
Call him Mistico. Call him Hunico. Call him whatever you want, but do it quickly as chances are high that Sin Cara will be leaving the WWE very soon. Since 2011, the Sin Cara character has been pushed by Vince and Hunter as the next great luchador, taking over for the departed Rey Mysterio. Sadly, the character has been nothing but a bust. Sure he has displayed some amazing moves, but he has yet to connect with the WWE fanbase on any level.
Thanks to the addition of the Cruiserweight Division, the need for Sin Cara as a high flying wrestler have come and gone. With undersized wrestlers such as T.J. Perkins, Neville, Noam Dar and Cedric Alexander, to name but a few, capable of putting on a much better show, it's a safe bet that you'll most likely see Sin Cara head to Lucha Underground within the next few months.
9 Jack Swagger
The All-American American has been irrelevant in the WWE since 2010 and even that could be a stretch. A former two sport star at the University of Oklahoma, Swagger came into the WWE through the ECW brand in 2008 before eventually being traded to the flagship show in 2009. After claiming the Money In The Bank contract at WrestleMania XXVI, Swagger would eventually pin then-champion Chris Jericho to win the World Heavyweight Championship. Three months later, the belt would leave Swagger's waist and his downward spiral would begin.
With a series of useless storylines and feuds that have wasted both talent and time (other than leading fans in a "We The People" chant), a move to TNA or ROH where he would more than likely be thrust into a title push or at least a main event story would serve Swagger well.
8 James Ellsworth
Someone please explain the draw, if any, that Carmella's boy toy has remaining in his WWE run? After taking a certifiable one sided slobberknocking at the hands of Braun Strowman last summer, there is no reason why this man remains on either the red or blue brands, let alone Main Event.
Long after his 15 minutes of fame ran out, Ellsworth found himself the focal point in a feud between Dean Ambrose and A.J. Styles, one that would have been a lot better without the unnecessary third party. Vince and Hunter should do everyone a favor and have a loser retires from wrestling (not just the WWE) forever match at WrestleMania 33 between Ellsworth and Gillberg. Ideal finish, double DQ meaning both have to leave forever.
7 Eva Marie
Ms. All Red Everything (who isn't red anymore), who was last seen preparing to make her long awaited SmackDown Live debut this past summer, hasn't been seen or heard from since following her abrupt wardrobe malfunctions on the Tuesday show.
After being suspended for violating the company's Wellness Policy, Marie has kept message boards and chat rooms buzzing about her rumored departure from the company. With two movies in various stages of production, Marie has her sights apparently set more towards Hollywood than for a return to the ring. Considering that Marie's personal website and Twitter accounts have removed any and all acknowledgements that she is employed by or following the WWE, it's possible she's already decided to leave. While her wrestling skills were limited at best, her other "talents" more than made up for a reason to hope for Marie's return to the ring. To quote a former WWE Diva..."Girl Bye!"
6 Big Show
At the age of 45, Paul Wight may be in the best physical shape he has been in the last ten years. Unfortunately, that means fans have dealt with nearly a decade of him plundering around the ring. Wight has already more or less announced that he'll retire shortly after his rumored WrestleMania 33 match against Shaquille O'Neal.
For over twenty years, Big Show has been the dominant giant in the world of wrestling, whether it be in WCW, ECW (WWE's version) or WWE. While he has probably had more face/heel changes than anyone else in wrestling history, Wight has been one of the most decorated big men in wrestling history with seven Heavyweight Championships, 11 Tag Team Championships, one United States Championship and one Intercontinential Championship.
Unfortunately for a man that was once feared as a 7'2", 400lb giant, he is now seen as a comedy act with fans chanting for him to retire, rather than appreciating his dedicated work over a twenty year career.
5 Dolph Ziggler
Talks of Dolph Ziggler hanging up his boots have been floating around social media since last fall when he battled The Miz in a title against career match. That isn't the only thing that has been floating when it comes to Ziggler. Sure he grabbed the Intercontinental Championship following a great feud with The Miz, but what he did before that and what he has done since (other than quickly lose it) is nothing spectacular.
The former Spirit Squad member has expressed his frustration with the lack of direction for his character and with his recent less than mid-card storyline against Kalisto and Apollo Crews, it doesn't look like The Show-Off will be returning to the top of the mountain any time soon. Heck at this point in his career, Ziggler would be happy to have that mountaintop be one with a Mid-Card Belt or Tag Titles on it for that matter.
The Swiss Superman has been misused by the WWE for the longest time. Quick, name a period in which The King Of Swing was part of the main event programming for an extended period of time. You can't? Chances are you can't even come up with a short period of time.
Whether face or heel, Cesaro has proven time and time again that he has the charisma and the talent to be one of the top wrestlers on the card. Entering his best of seven matches with Shamus, Cesaro was floundering and luckily for him, the pair managed to put on a surprisingly entertaining series before being thrust together as an unlikely tag team. Granted they defeated New Day for the Tag Team Championships (his second stint with the belts), their reign was short-lived however. Although the following for New Japan Pro Wrestling or Lucha Underground isn't as huge as the WWE, at least the respect factor on behalf of the organization would be there if he were to make a change.
3 Nikki Bella
With a contract that is set to expire shortly after WrestleMania 33, chances are fans may be experiencing the last of The Fearless One for a while. After missing nearly a year of action with a career threatening neck injury, Nikki returned to action on a full-time schedule and helped elevate the SmackDown Women's Division. Although she wasn't placed in a feud for the belt, Bella's battles against both Carmella and Natalya have showcased some of Nikki's best matches in her career.
Rumors are floating around that Nikki wants to take time away to once again rest her body and apparently work on growing her family, like her sister Brie. While Total Divas and Total Bellas have talked about Nikki's desire to settle down and get married to long time boyfriend John Cena, there are talks that the power couple may finally team up at WrestleMania for a tag match against The Miz and his wife Mayse. Although Nikki may end up walking away from the ring following The Showcase of the Immortals, her, and possibly Brie's, return is near inevitable.
The thought of seeing Bill Goldberg in a WWE ring in 2016-17 was so far off the map that satellites couldn't pick it up. Sure, there were always rumors, but for years they were just water cooler talks, that was until Survivor Series 2016.
Following their horrible WrestleMania XX match, which at the time was presumed to be the final WWE match for both wrestlers, Goldberg had one up on Brock Lesnar. Fast forward twelve years and a rematch was made between the two beasts for the fall PPV. Unlike their WrestleMania match, the second meeting between the two lasted only a minute and a half. Goldberg is scheduled to face WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens at Fastlane on March 5th and potentially capture the belt heading into what is presumed to be his third and final battle with The Beast Incarnate at WrestleMania 33.
Who would have thought that the 50 year old Goldberg would be one of the most popular wrestlers on the WWE active roster? However, with that being said, all good things must come to an end and considering that his time in the ring has been limited to short matches, expect very few people to be NEXT.
1 The Undertaker
Fans have been saying that The Undertaker needs to walk away from the ring for years. The key words there are "walk away," something that Mark Calaway seems to have been struggling with after every match since his epic battles with Shawn Michaels. The streak is broken, a championship run is far away from reality and any sort of long term feud is but a pipe dream. Sure there are the "dream" matches that fans would love to see at WrestleMania, like the heavily rumored battle with John Cena or even A.J. Styles (though word on the street is a battle with Roman Reigns is looming), but considering The Deadman's age and lack of health, both of these seem more like nightmares than anything else.
Look, we all know that we'll hear the gong and see the smoke one more time at WrestleMania 33, but do we really want to see the 51 year old Phenom be carried away from the ring in Orlando on a stretcher? While others on this list have the opportunity to carry on their legacy or attempt to build one elsewhere, let us remember The Undertaker for all the epic matches he graced us with, not the shell of his former self.
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