WWE has brought in a lot of Superstars over the past two years with the Cruiserweight Classic, the beginning of 205 Live, as well as the UK Tournament and the current Mae Young Classic.
In order for the company to be able to free up the money for these, they have to cut some of the stars that they don't feel they need anymore. Almost every year WWE releases a lot of talents around SummerSlam because this is when WWE is seen to be making the least money from their shows.
Over the past few years, the company has made many mistakes with their releases and the likes of Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow have already begun making waves on the independent circuit since their releases.
There have been a number of stars released over the past 18 months and some of them are still finding their feet outside of WWE, but it seems that they could be likely to make an impact on other promotions in the future, and here are the predictions for where they will end up.
15 Tajiri: All Japan Pro Wrestling
Tajiri will be remembered by many of the WWE Universe as a Cruiserweight Champion back in the early 2000s, WWE decided to bring him back to the company to take part in the Cruiserweight Classic last year, but when he was knocked out of the tournament, WWE decided to keep him under contract and allow him to appear on NXT.
After suffering a knee injury and then being cleared to return, WWE decided not to continue using him because of his age and then released him from the company. Over the past few decades Tajiri has put down some solid roots in Japan and was able to head back over there and pick up where he left off. It is easy to see Tajiri retiring over in Japan as part of All Japan Pro Wrestling now.
14 Alex Riley: Impact Wrestling
Alex Riley was never really given a lot of opportunities in WWE and was always seen as a guy destined to remain in the mid-card. After a brief stint on commentary Alex was put back in the ring in early 2016, but WWE just didn't seem him moving forward with the company and decided to release him along with a number of other stars in May last year.
Riley is one of the few stars who hasn't been up to much since his contract with the company ran out. He made a small appearance in Netflix original series GLOW that is all about the Women's wrestling in the 1980s. This could be a route that Riley decides to take now as he doesn't seem like a star that would make it big on the Independent Scene. But he could be a Bobby Lashley style character and prove WWE wrong by becoming a huge star in Impact Wrestling.
13 Cameron: Fitness Career
Cameron was only promoted to the main roster because Naomi needed a partner who could dance to be part of the Funkadactyls. Cameron wasn't a very good wrestler and she didn't have a lot of skills on the mic either. So when Cameron was dropped from Total Divas, the writing was already on the wall.
Cameron was never going to continue wrestling. It was never her talent. If anything, she would have continued with the reality style programs that suited her part in Total Divas. Since she left WWE, Cameron has begun making YouTube videos showing WWE fans how to stay in shape and this could then lead to something like the set up that former WWE star Torrie Wilson has. A career in fitness could be exactly what Cameron is equipped for.
12 Ryback: Impact Wrestling
Ryback made sure that he made waves when he made the decision to walk away from WWE and allow his contract to expire. Ryback and WWE had a disagreement about how much money the person losing the main event match should be receiving and this seemingly was too much for Ryback to take any more as he walked away. WWE released him just three months after the lengthy Tumblr post about a money dispute.
Since his departure, Ryback has been taking Independent bookings all over the world, predominantly appearing in the UK and Germany. Ryback is enjoying being "The Big Guy" for now, but he will need to be signed to a promotion for some stability at some point. Impact Wrestling would be perfect for his kind of character, although if he has issues with money disputes then they may not be the best option.
11 Santino Marella: Back in WWE
Santino Marella officially retired from WWE back in 2014. But the company decided to re-sign the former "Milan Miracle" back in 2015. He remained contracted with the company making small appearances up until May when he was released once again due to recurring injury.
Marella has since joined Sportsnet and now works as an analyst. He seems to be doing quite well in his new job role. If rumors are to be believed, Marella could be making a return to WWE in the near future as another comedy relief kind of character. Marella was with WWE for more than 11 years so it makes sense that WWE would want to bring him back. He could fit in much better with the Brand Split now than he did a few years ago.
10 Hornswoggle: Impact Wrestling
Hornswoggle was released from WWE back in May 2016 along with many other stars as the company made their annual budget cuts. But Hornswoggle was no longer needed since the likes of Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre had been released and he had been working with 3MB for a while beforehand.
Since his release, Hornswoggle has been active on the Independent Circuit and recently joined Impact Wrestling where he is in the middle of a feud with Rockstar Spud. Hornswoggle has found a decent storyline to step into with Impact Wrestling and is managing quite well without WWE. The company never really gave him a lot to do while Impact is giving him much more to sink his teeth into. This could be a lengthy one for the former Cruiserweight Champion.
9 Alberto Del Rio: Mexico
Alberto Del Rio was released from WWE back in August last year. It was negotiated that the former World Champion could be released from his contract early after he was suspended for 30 days for violating WWE's Wellness Policy for the first time.
Del Rio was brought over to the UK as soon as he was released from WWE and appeared for Paige's family promotion WAW before returning to Mexico and signing to GFW. Given the reports about Paige and Del Rio recently the former United States Champion was suspended indefinitely from GFW and it is unknown where he currently stands with his Impact Wrestling contract. Del Rio could find himself unable to find work as a wrestler if his rollercoaster relationship with Paige continues. His only option right now is to return to Mexico and hopefully build himself back up and come back stronger.
8 Adam Rose: Working 9:00-5:00
Adam Rose had an eventful few years during his tenure in WWE. But as soon as The Exotic Express came to an end, WWE refused to come up with any new ideas and when Adam began having real life marital issues. He then failed WWE's Wellness Policy for the first time, and the company thought it was time to cut their losses.
Rose announced back in March that 2017 would be his final year as a wrestler because he has an ill son who he would want to spend some time with. Rose has competed on the Independent Circuit over the past few months but he hasn't had as much success as many other released WWE stars. In a year's time he could be another Superstar who left the business and decided to get a normal 9:00-5:00 job.
7 Brandi Rhodes: Ring of Honor
Brandi Rhodes made the decision to leave WWE back in 2016 when her husband Cody cut his ties with the company. Brandi was only ever seen as a ring announcer by WWE despite proving that she was a talented wrestler during her time in FCW.
Ever since she's left, Brandi has been proving WWE wrong by competing in Impact alongside her husband, Ring of Honor, and even as part of What Culture Pro Wrestling in the UK. Brandi could go on to prove that she was always worthy of becoming a female wrestler in WWE, but she was never given the chance. Brandi should be allowed to split from her husband now that he's Ring of Honor World Champion and she can then make a name for herself in the Women's Division as a Woman of Honor.
6 Wade Barrett: Ring of Honor
Bad News Barrett was released alongside a number of other stars in May 2016 and was seen as one of the biggest shocks of the released stars since he was a future World Champion and one of the only British stars in the company. Wade announced following his release that he was taking a hiatus from wrestling as a whole and focusing on his acting career.
Barrett came through the ranks int he UK and could easily step back into the wrestling world next year. Given the current hype around the UK wrestling scene Wade could cash in on this by returning to wrestling early. Barrett would perhaps be much better suited to Ring of Honor than Impact Wrestling right now, and it would be interesting to see him head down that route.
5 Cody Rhodes: Lucha Underground
Cody Rhodes has wrestling in his blood, but he made the decision to leave WWE back in 2016 after years of what he thought was the company not giving him chances and giving him unwarranted gimmicks. Cody has since proved that he made the right choice by leaving WWE. He has had successful spells in both Impact Wrestling and on the Independent Circuit and is currently the Ring of Honor World Champion.
Cody knows what he is doing. He's a smart man and he could make it in any promotion in the world at this point. It would be interesting to see him head to Lucha Underground and much like John Morrison, who's now Johnny Mundo, he could be another stand out talent from WWE who has made it in the relatively new promotion. Cody said that he was ready to settle down in one promotion after a year of travelling the world, and Lucha Underground could be the answer.
4 Damien Sandow: Ring of Honor
The WWE Universe was shocked back in May 2016 when Damien Sandow was announced as one of the names who were on the release list. Sandow was an incredible talent in WWE and worked best as The Miz's stunt double for a number of months. It came as no surprise that Sandow managed to switch over to Impact Wrestling almost instantly as Aaron Rex.
Aaron Rex was a bad idea for Sandow and it may have hindered his career much more than it helped. Even though Rex was the first ever Grand Champion on Impact he still left the company in April this year and many fans saw this as the best decision. Damien could look at working for the next few years on the Independent scene or look at places like Ring of Honor over the next year.
3 Simon Gotch: Independent Circuit
Simon Gotch and Aiden English are former NXT Tag Team Champions as The Vaudevillians. But they struggled to remain relevant on the SmackDown Live roster after they were called up and Gotch was said to have caused a few problems backstage, whoch would lead to his release following WrestleMania.
Gotch announced that following his release he would be heading to the Independent Circuit and he could easily be a Superstar who bounced around for different promotions over the next few years. Gotch had a talent when he was given the chance and he could prove this by bulking up his portfolio over the next year. Gotch would easily fit in at any promotion, but it was said that he was hard to deal with. And much like many stars, despite talent, sometimes it's hard to get booked if you have problems working with others.
2 Austin Aries: Ring of Honor
Austin Aries was shockingly released from WWE last week after it was revealed that the former TNA and ROH star was having issues with the way he was being handled. He also had some heat with a number of stars backstage. Austin is considered a veteran and will easily be able to leave WWE and find work in any other promotion.
Aries could perhaps benefit from heading back over to Ring of Honor now that Cody Rhodes is over there as the World Champion, or he could even go and test his metal at places like Lucha Underground or CMLL to completely prove WWE wrong when it comes to the fact that they didn't see the former NXT star as part of the main roster outside of 205 Live. It is highly likely that Aries will be back at Ring of Honor this time next year.
1 Jack Swagger: Training
Jack Swagger is a former World Champion in WWE. So it came as a huge shock when he announced that he had asked for his release from the company ahead of WrestleMania this year. Swagger was being underutilized by WWE and he wanted to cut his losses and head to the Independent Circuit instead.
Swagger has already appeared on the Independent Circuit all over the world wrestling Alberto Del Rio in Mexico and even appearing in the UK a number of times. Swagger could easily continue gaining bookings on the circuit and living off the name he made for himself in WWE, but at some point Swagger will have to make a decision and it could well be that Swagger could head back to his roots and decide to train instead. He could even train high school wrestling teams since that is where his background is.
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