The independent wrestling world is a difficult environment to succeed in. WWE pushes their top stars with heavy marketing and a platform to easily have the chance to convince the fan base that they are worth paying attention to. A smaller audience and the pressure on the performer make the variables completely different on the independent circuit. Wrestlers have to do it themselves to thrive on their own. Colt Cabana, The Young Bucks and Adam Cole have dominated the indies over the past few years due to building their brand and creating momentum through both their work and self-marketing.
Former WWE stars have also used the independent scene to rejuvenate their careers. Cody Rhodes, Drew Galloway and Rey Mysterio have all found paths to success on the free agent market in different ways. Not all wrestlers can make a name or freshen up their career with an independent wrestling run. Many struggle to build their own success without the help of a machine like WWE. We'll look at current wrestling names that are not putting out impressive work, failing to create interest and flat out are failing in their environment. These are fifteen wrestlers that are doing terrible on the independent wrestling scene right now.
14 Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio’s first firing from the WWE back in 2014 led to massive success on the independent scene. His work in Ring of Honor and Lucha Underground especially made fans want to see him perform for the first time in a long time. Del Rio made the decision to return to WWE in 2015 and it led to him losing all momentum before requesting a release.
13 Rob Van Dam
Lack of passion is something that has made Rob Van Dam’s final years in wrestling a huge disappointment and which hurt his legacy. At his peak, Van Dam was as great as anyone else in the industry. Years of the politics in WWE and his interests growing outside of the business have just made him care less about wrestling.
12 Zahra Schreiber
Most known for being the ex-girlfriend of Seth Rollins, Zahra Schreiber has been involved in various forms of controversy. From the way her relationship with Rollins started and ended, to old social media posts with offensive content being revealed, Zahra found herself fired from WWE after a short stint at the Performance Center. It didn’t stop Schreiber from attempting to continue her career in the wrestling business.
11 Cliff Compton
Diehard WWE fans will remember Cliff Compton’s time in the company as Deuce teaming with Domino. The horrible gimmick flopped badly, but Compton always stood out as a solid performer and was way better than his partner. Between his in-ring promise and colorful persona, Compton was given a chance in Ring of Honor as a part of the S.C.U.M. stable.
10 Yoshi Tatsu
The popularity of Japanese wrestling has made North American fans pay attention to the wrestlers from Japan. Shinsuke Nakamura, Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi are huge stars with Nakmaura actually getting signed to WWE based off his popularity. One Japanese wrestler that received a chance in WWE many years ago was Yoshi Tatsu and he wasn’t at the level of the other names mentioned.
9 Robbie E
The majority of TNA wrestlers are allowed to work the independent wrestling scene due to the company’s inconsistent schedule. TNA films months of television in one week of tapings, making the wrestlers' schedules wide open most weekends. Robbie E is one of the wrestlers struggling to make it on the independent circuit after years of work there before signing with TNA.
WWE invested a lot of time and money in Carlito. They were rewarded with disappointment, so it only makes sense that the same thing happened on the independent wrestling circuit. Carlito is a forgotten man these days but he does still wrestle occasionally. His asking price makes him an expensive booking for independent shows.
7 Chris Masters
Many wrestlers went to bat for Chris Masters when he was released from WWE. Masters was said to have improved during his final year in WWE ,but never had the opportunity to showcase it. CM Punk even referenced him in interviews as someone WWE dropped the ball with. Masters heading to the independent wrestling circuit after getting released from WWE didn’t do his reputation any favors.
6 Brandi Rhodes
Cody Rhodes has become one of the most successful stars on the independent wrestling scene, but it has become a tougher task for his wife, Brandi Rhodes. WWE stopped Brandi’s training to become a wrestler by placing her in the role of a ring announcer. Rhodes was successful in the new role and beame the most tenured at the role when Lilian Garcia left WWE.
5 Bull Dempsey
WWE stars finding new motivation on the independent wrestling circuit is common, but wasn't the case with Bull Dempsey. Bull claimed he would prove WWE wrong for not believing in him by aggressively looking for new places to work on the independent scene. Somehow, Dempsey's work is even worse on the indies than it was in NXT.
Magnus could have been something special during his peak days in TNA. Magnus had the look, potential and momentum to move up the rankings, but just couldn’t back it up when it counted. A weak title reign saw his stock fall and he eventually left TNA in hopes of striking a better deal. His independent wrestling run has been a huge failure with his name becoming an afterthought.
3 Frankie Kazarian
Frankie Kazarian stood out in TNA many years ago and fans wanted Kazarian to be positioned as a future main event star. Kazarian hit a home run any time TNA put him in the ring with a top talent like Kurt Angle, Christian Cage and Samoa Joe. The years have seen a regression with Kazarian no longer having the work rate that made him someone special in TNA.
Kazarian currently works for Ring of Honor and it has led to disappointing results. His tag team partner Christopher Daniels has been better on his own and is being given a singles push. That makes Kazarian a secondary player in the singles division and he's have been among the more disappointing things in ROH these days.
2 Damien Sandow
Wrestling fans have wanted to see Damien Sandow without the restraints of WWE for many years now, as Sandow always appeared to have a special charisma about him. It matched his impressive matches that made him a valued name after leaving WWE. However, his work on the independent wrestling market has completely destroyed any value attached to his name.
1 Adam Rose
WWE and Adam Rose had a public dispute surrounding the drama of his suspension. It all culminated in him being released and going to the independent wrestling circuit. Rose claimed he would turn his career around and show WWE was always holding him back. Things have gone the complete opposite direction with his indie run being a huge flop.
Fans show no interest in watching him and his stock has seen him fall among the lowest of former WWE stars on the indie scene. Rose has experimented with a few new characters but all fall short in accomplishing anything of note. The sad state of his career could see his days of wrestling winding down unless something changes soon. Rose is among the biggest failures in independent wrestling right now.
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