The recent changes in WWE over the past few years have seen many wrestlers come in and out of the company. We are witnessing more new talent from all over the world join the company and instantly becoming stars. This turnaround means some talent will have to be let go along the way. The wrestlers to get released have different stories behind why the company didn’t want to employ them any longer. Some talents were there too long and had nothing else left to do while others just failed to deliver. A few even requested to get released because they wanted to reinvent themselves outside of the company.
We'll take a look at what these performers are doing now after getting released within the past two years. There are some stories of strong success for wrestlers being forced out of WWE and showing their worth. Unfortunately, many of these names have gone the other way by becoming irrelevant in wrestling or struggling to transition outside of the ring. All of the roads will be examined regarding the talents to get let go by WWE. These are fifteen recently released WWE stars fired by Vince McMahon along with the stories of where they are today.
15 Cody Rhodes
The best case of someone succeeding after getting officially released by WWE is Cody Rhodes. Vince McMahon terminated Cody’s contract back in the spring of 2016. Rhodes was upset at having to continue playing the failing Stardust character and felt held back. The motivation to prove his worth saw him actually request to get fired so he could have the freedom to show his own skills.
It has all worked out for Cody as he now is one of the biggest names outside of WWE. Rhodes recently signed the biggest contract in Ring of Honor history and is the ROH World Champion. As a member of the Bullet Club, he gets to work regularly in New Japan as well. Life can’t be much better for a wrestler fired by WWE. Cody even has a t-shirt in Hot Topic and is getting his own Funko Pop in late 2018.
14 Adam Rose
Someone with the opposite of a career path after WWE is Adam Rose. The firing of Rose came after he made negative headlines for violating the Wellness Policy and being accused of domestic abuse. WWE fired Rose and he tried to continue his career on the independent circuit. Unlike some of his peers, Rose didn’t have any momentum and fans did not care to go out of their way to see him.
No relevant promotions booked Rose and he has wrestled on lower tier shows after leaving WWE. At one point in 2017, Rose stated he was going to find a new career path and end his time in the squared circle. That only lasted a few months as he is once again taking bookings. It appears Rose is working dates in between trying to get a new career going.
13 Brooklyn Brawler
One of the more surprising releases came when long time employee the Brooklyn Brawler. Everyone remembers him for his time as an endearing enhancement talent during the 80s and 90s. Most would name Brawler as the most memorable jobber of all time. WWE respected his mind for wrestling and found another job for him when jobbing out was no longer needed.
Brawler worked backstage as a producer helping out with vignettes and character introductions. New wrestlers coming up to the main roster or main roster talent wanting to experiment with backstage promos often had him shoot the promos. WWE let him go out of the blue in 2016. Brawler didn’t see it coming but returned to the ring shortly after appearing on lower tier independent wrestling shows. The veteran also came out with his own audio book recently to try to share his stories and get paid for it.
12 Ho Ho Lun
An under the radar story regarding a release happened with Ho Ho Lun earlier this year. WWE signed him following the Cruiserweight Classic last year due to his potential and the ability to tap into another market. Lun was the first wrestler ever employed from Hong Kong and they hoped to bring in new international viewers.
The majority of his career in WWE was spent in the Performance Center as he was viewed as more of a long term project. However, Lun’s time in WWE came to an end when he requested WWE let him go and end his contract due to family issue. He went back to Hong Kong to take care of his ill mother. Family is more important than career dreams to most people and Lun showed that by giving it up to help out a loved one.
11 Joey Styles
Most fans were not aware that Joey Styles spent many years with WWE after leaving his spot at commentary. WWE actually promoted him by having him run WWE’s website over the eight years. Styles being in charge of such a popular site allowed him to work behind the scenes in a more structured environment and he held the role for many years.
It came to an end shortly after Joey made controversial comments about the WWE product during a company interview. Styles ended up getting fired and went to the independent circuit. That didn’t last long either as Joey was fired from Evolve and Chikara for making more inappropriate comments. Styles has since transitioned out of wrestling to get an office job using his background in various fields like sales, advertising and social media.
10 Eva Marie
The WWE career of Eva Marie is not one fans will look back fondly on. Eva was hired due to her looks and WWE believing she could become a huge star. They originally brought her in to be a part of the Total Divas reality show in addition to hoping for in-ring success. Unfortunately, Marie was absolutely horrendous in the ring and failed to keep up with her peers.
WWE unofficially fired her by forcing her to sit out the last year of her contract after she violated the Wellness Policy. This was the first strike for her in the drug tests but the final strike for her WWE career. Eva has continued modeling and trying to break into acting during her time in WWE. Getting released hasn’t changed much as she is still regularly taking part in shoots and is trying to get movie roles as she signed with The Rock’s production company.
9 Simon Gotch
One firing that didn’t come as a surprise was the recent release of Simon Gotch. The Vaudevillains flopped badly after a strong run in NXT. Aiden English always showed more promise of the two, and Gotch received backstage heat for multiple incidents. It was reported that the locker room hated Gotch for various reasons that ended up hurting his career.
Following his firing, Gotch has been relatively quiet in the wrestling world when it comes to branching out. Chikara is the biggest promotion Gotch has wrestled for since getting released and that is not a good sign. Simon has also taken part in a controversial shoot interview that saw him trash Enzo Amore being unsafe in the ring and an overall pay to have to interact with in person.
The firing of Cameron was one of the most interesting ones when it came to how WWE made decisions. Most releases came due to talent not panning out or running out of opportunities which also would made sense for Cameron’s firing. She never showed any potential or promise of getting better. However, WWE never planned to fire Cameron until she ran her mouth on social media.
Cameron endorsed Ryback’s rant ripping WWE for how they treated talent and it resulted in her getting released shortly after. Unlike others, she didn’t even try to continue wrestling knowing she only wanted to work in WWE. Cameron is now committed to her careers in acting, modeling and hosting. We'll likely never see her in another wrestling ring and that may be a positive for all involved.
The Cruiserweight Classic and the decision to start 205 Live for the Cruiserweight Division landed contracts to many names. Tajiri may have been the biggest name to sign considering the amount of success he had in WWE in the early 2000s. In his older age, Tajiri was by far the oldest man in the division but WWE hoped he would provide name value.
Unfortunately, an injury ended Tajiri’s run in the Cruiserweight Division within a few weeks. WWE never used him again due to his age and ended up releasing him despite getting cleared. Tajiri returned to All Japan to continue wrestling right after it was revealed that he was fired from WWE. There was no bad blood between the two sides and Tajiri plans to continue wrestling.
6 Rosa Mendes
A forgettable wrestler that spent over a decade in WWE was Rosa Mendes. Most fans would be shocked to realize she was employed for 11 years due to how little she accomplished. The high points of Rosa’s career came as the manager of Primo and Epico for a short time period and her role on the Total Divas reality show. Mendes could never actually wrestle well limiting her career.
Following her pregnancy and becoming a mother for the first time, Rosa and WWE came to agreement that it was time for her contract to be terminated. Mendes is spending as much time as possible being a mother and recently revealed she is getting into the real estate business. This is a career field both Nikki Bella and Maryse got into following their first releases from WWE.
5 Austin Aries
The news of Austin Aries getting released from WWE was rather shocking. Aries originally signed for NXT and ended up on the main roster as part of the Cruiserweight Division. Following his losses to Neville, Aries had nothing to do and struggled with his role. The Cruiserweights basically have nothing to do on Raw if they are not in the title feud.
Aries wanted the opportunity to become a big star and requested his release when it became he would remain pigeonholed in the Cruiserweight Division. This stage in Aries life is not worth risking years of irrelevance and less money than expected in the smaller role. Aries hasn't wrestled since leaving WWE and is apparently taking time off. The release of his recent book about his passion for Veganism is the big project of his at the moment.
4 Alberto Del Rio
Here with the real legends... the man himself, the best person in this world my dad and one of the best luchadores in the biz @officialelhijodelsanto it was a pleasure to share the ring with you amigo... thanks to all the #monterrey for packing that arena tonight.. god bless you every day. Amigos que gusto regresar a tierras regias, gracias por abarrotar la arena coliseo el día de hoy, un gusto ver al hombre que es y será siempre mi inspiración en la vida, mi señor padre, el verdadero patrón #sisisi y ver a un gran amigo y una de las máximas legendas en este negocio... un honor compartir el ring contigo amigo #elhijodelsanto
Alberto Del Rio saw his release from WWE come in the ugliest of ways. The talented Del Rio became a big player in WWE at one point due to Vince McMahon strongly believing in him. Alberto’s second and most recent WWE tenure saw that change as Del Rio’s subpar work and poor attitude hurt him. WWE became upset at Del Rio dating Paige leading to more issues.
The release came at the request of Del Rio after WWE suspended him for violating the Wellness Policy. Alberto has been trashing WWE and threatening Triple H nonstop since the release despite his girlfriend still working there. Del Rio has been in the news for many negative reasons, including alleged domestic abuse with Paige. TNA ended up parting ways with him but he is still wrestling occasionally as well running a San Antonio restaurant.
3 Damien Sandow
Someone that fans badly wanted WWE to use but ended up being proven wrong about was Damien Sandow. There was a time period where Sandow was delivering impressive matches and promos as a heel with momentum. WWE never went all the way with him and he eventually got phased off television. Sandow ended up getting released after a long time with nothing to do.
The comments of Sandow saw him want to prove WWE wrong for not using him right. Sadly, Sandow ended up proving them right by failing badly during his time in TNA. The work of Sandow was below average and he appeared to be out of shape. Sandow ended up deciding to take time away from the wrestling business to explore other ventures but claims he expects to return at some point.
2 Wade Barrett
Wade Barrett had an extremely disappointing career in WWE if you think about how much potential he had. Everyone expected Barrett to become the next consistent main eventer when leading Nexus and feuding with the likes of John Cena and Randy Orton. WWE never went all the way with him at his peak and everything went downhill after then.
Barrett did some good work but never received a push anywhere above the mid-card picture until the end of the run. WWE and Barrett agreed to let his contract expire with no new negotiations. Wade has been trying to make it as an actor but recently showed signs of coming back to the squared circle. Barrett appeared as the new General Manager for Defiant Wrestling in September. A recent interview Barrett says there is a 99% chance he wrestles again.
1 Jack Swagger
The end of Jack Swagger’s run with WWE saw both sides happy to end their relationship. Swagger is a forgotten former World Champion that won the title too early into his career. The flopped run saw him get placed back into the mid-card picture and he never returned from it. In fact, Swagger went backwards and reached a point where he was rarely on television for the final years.
A release from WWE has Swagger wrestling on the independent circuit now. Swagger isn’t in the bigger independent promotions like ROH, PWG and Evolve, but he still manages to find consistent work. Defiant Wrestling, AAW and other secondary indie companies are the home of Swagger. The free agent appears on shows with his wife now, but success seems to be quite limited.