The longer one has been watching pro wrestling, the more likely they are to agree that World Wrestling Entertainment isn’t the company it used to be. Once upon a time, Vince McMahon and the many people working for him did whatever it took to put on the best show possible for their viewing audience. They didn’t always succeed, but it genuinely felt like they listened to the fans now and again and reacted by booking the show according to popular interests.
Nowadays, however, it seems the only person whose opinion matters is Vince himself, as no matter how loudly fans reject what he shows them, his only response is to double down on the same old crap everyone’s tired of booing. The worst part about this is that WWE is still the biggest wrestling company in the world, and therefore the place where most wrestlers want to work, if only so they can earn a decent living. Until recently, that is.
In the past few months, multiple high profile wrestlers including Ryback, Jack Swagger, Cody Rhodes, and Neville have either walked out of the company or tried to, while others like Damien Sandow, CM Punk, and Austin Aries were openly happy to hear they had been fired. The changing wrestling landscape means there are other viable options for them, which is why even some WWE fans are hoping other wrestlers follow in their footsteps and try their luck on the indies. Because let’s face it, things aren’t going too well in Vince McMahon’s universe. Keep reading to learn about 15 wrestlers we wish would quit working for WWE, and why.
15 Daniel Bryan
Truth be told, there are mixed feelings about putting Daniel Bryan on this list. Ultimately, we decided we had to, if only due to the fact the man himself has been heavily hinting that he’s going to inevitably quit in the near future, suggesting on social media that he’s not pleased with his position in WWE. Bryan’s unhappy because WWE won’t let him wrestle due to various health concerns, while he apparently believes less strict indy companies may well allow him to get back in the ring. The thing is, medical experts are kinda on WWE’s side, meaning if said indy companies do let Bryan wrestle again, the results could be truly catastrophic. Hopefully, that won’t be the case, but either way, if the man doesn’t like the limitations of his job, any person who calls himself or herself a fan of his should hope he’s allowed to quit it sometime soon.
14 Becky Lynch
What the heck happened to Becky Lynch over the past year? In late 2016, she was reigning as the first ever SmackDown Women’s Champion after having helped the other so-called Four Horsewomen of NXT define the new era of women’s wrestling in the WWE Universe. Now, she’s an afterthought of an afterthought, easily getting lost in the shuffle of the notably weak SmackDown women’s roster. Well, it’s not that the women are weak, of course, but rather the way they’re all written leaves much to be desired. Now that Lynch has bolstered her profile and has more than proven she can hold her own in the ring, she should be treated like a true star like her former NXT colleagues. Because WWE won’t give her that honor, perhaps she should look for employment somewhere that will.
13 Luke Harper
After all they’ve been through separately and together, it may be a sad reality that none of the men best associated with the Wyatt Family will ever have normal careers in WWE. As the leader and weirdest member, Bray Wyatt is pretty much a lost cause—no one could recover from the House of Horrors match, let alone the garbage that he’s gone through since. Eric Rowan doesn’t have much of a chance, either, not having much talent to differentiate himself from the others in the first place. The one outlier is Luke Harper, who has the skills to make a serious name for himself if WWE would actually let him fly on his own. Unfortunately, each time he almost gets the chance to do so, the writers inevitably give up and throw him back with Wyatt, Rowan, or both of them. To actually be by himself, he may well need to quit the company.
12 Kassius Ohno
What the heck happened to Chris Hero? Sorry, Kassius Ohno as WWE calls him, in one of the most baffling name changes in company history. Everyone understands the whole copyright thing, but this isn’t changing generic name like Tyler Black into a generic name like Seth Rollins; it’s changing a reasonably clever gimmick into, well, Kassius. Oh no. As if the name thing wasn’t bad enough, Ohno’s prospects as a pro wrestler have diminished dramatically from his time on the indy scene to his current position in NXT. Every indy wrestler gets a small downgrade when they hit the mainstream, needing a few months to prepare themselves for TV in developmental, but Ohno is basically a jobber to the stars rather than a growing featured player himself. Maybe he’s content closing out his career by giving back with decent matches against rising stars, but if Ohno wants to be a Hero once again, the indy world would be glad to have him back.
It’s been over a full year since Paige last appeared in a WWE wrestling ring, and her life has been quite the roller coaster since the back-to-back Wellness Policy violations that lead to her hiatus. At times, it was rumored that Paige wouldn’t even be welcome back to the company when her various suspensions ended, thanks more so to her high profile relationship with Alberto Del Rio than anything else. While that no longer appears to be the case, the truth is, we’re a little bit worried about what WWE is might put Paige through should she indeed make a return to the company. Vince McMahon has been known to act incredibly petty and vindictively towards people he believes wronged him, and simply by standing by her man while he espoused his belief Triple H was a racist, Paige was seriously wronging the entire WWE Universe (insofar as Vince is concerned). If she has the courage to return, Paige probably won’t last for long, so maybe she should quit while she’s ahead and go out on her own terms.
Every time Kane steps back inside a WWE ring, there’s a vocal contingent of fans wondering what the hellfire and brimstone he’s doing still wrestling. It’s not even the fact he’s 50, that his talents are diminishing, or that he no longer has anything left to prove in the industry. The dude is running for Mayor of Knox County, Tennessee, for Pete’s sake—maybe he should focus a little bit on that second career instead of continuing to choke slam up and coming superstars who should be taking his place. Cards on the table here, we don’t know anything about Kane’s politics, and have absolutely no stock whatsoever in if he wins or loses his race, nor is that really an issue here. Like many fans, we just want the Big Red Machine gone from WWE already, and if convincing him mayors aren’t supposed to be part-time wrestlers is the way to do it these days, so goes our message to him.
As of 2017, Cesaro has managed to win the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s award for the Most Underrated Wrestler a record four times in a row. At this point, it’s hard to call Cesaro underrated and actually mean it, as everyone watching WWE should be well aware of his talents by now. The thing is, even if every fan of the product filled out a survey and agreed Cesaro was their favorite wrestler, there would still be one piece of the puzzle missing preventing him from getting the respect he’s long deserved—Vince McMahon clearly just doesn’t “get it.” For whatever reason, McMahon is almost openly blind to what makes Cesaro such a special talent, boldly claiming on the WWE Network he believes the Swiss Sensation lacks “the it factor” and failed to “grab the brass ring.” Most people watching as Vince said that recognized them as total lies, and unless Cesaro is willing to agree they were true, he should probably find a boss who understands just how wrong those statements are.
Far removed from the time he entered WrestleMania 31 on the back of a gigantic tank, few superstars in WWE have less momentum than the Bulgarian Brute known as Rusev. This is by no fault of his own, of course, as Rusev remains one of the most talented superstars on the WWE roster, with an incredible unique in-ring presence that truly makes him a star. Or should, anyway, as WWE has been shoving him further and further down the card since he married Lana in late 2016, when the two were supposed to be feuding on screen. There’s no extent to how harshly Vince McMahon will punish his superstars for daring to be happy in a way he didn’t approve, so Rusev’s past as a multiple time United States Champion with serious upside has largely been ignored. Now back to being a mere cliché from Eastern Europe, it’s hard to imagine Rusev ever earning a true shot in WWE again, so he probably should quit to work someplace else.
7 Sami Zayn
In all fairness to WWE, turning Sami Zayn heel and having him reconnect with his old buddy Kevin Owens may well be the thing his career was missing. If it goes well, the reunion could shoot him back into prominence and have us eating our words on this one, but it can’t be ignored that the “Underdog from the Underground” didn’t have the best year until he and his friend linked up for the latest time. To put it lightly, Zayn had been meandering in the midcard for far too long, never getting much of a shot to assert himself in any noteworthy way. He earned a title shot here or there but never won any gold, and had a tendency to lose every feud he was a part of in in very definitive fashion. Had that trend continued (and it still might as Owens’s lackey), there wouldn’t be much reason for Zayn to stick around in WWE.
6 Chad Gable
From the second WWE had Kurt Angle announce Jason Jordan was his illegitimate son, fans have been questioning the move for a great many reasons. Lost in the shuffle somewhat is what the announcement did to the career of Chad Gable, almost immediately casting him aside as an also ran. This is a huge disservice to Gable’s talents, as most fans were in agreement he was the true standout star of American Alpha, not Jordan. It would have been one thing if Gable used the split to slowly start building himself up as a solo star, but instead, WWE simply shoved him into another tag team with incredible similarities to the first, replacing Jordan with Shelton Benjamin. It’s still a little early to claim this is a sign WWE is never going to let Gable shine on his own, but it’s nonetheless proof they don’t know what to do with him yet. Maybe Gable taking a few years to work somewhere else would make McMahon realize what he’s missing.
Were this list written a year ago, we’d never even consider putting Bayley on it. At that point, Bayley was one of the most original and popular superstars in all of wrestling, and WWE wasn’t even doing anything to get in the way of that. Of course, this is only because she wasn’t really in WWE yet, regaled solely to the developmental training ground of NXT, where her ultimate optimistic hugger character was allowed to truly run free and make her a huge star. Once Bayley arrived in the WWE Universe proper, Vince McMahon’s pervasive influence slowly stripped away everything that made her unique and turned the poor athlete into just another petty diva. In short order, young female fans went from worshipping Bayley to booing her every move, and the rest of the wrestling community has largely followed suit. The only way to win her audience back is probably to stop letting WWE ruin their connection.
4 Sasha Banks
Despite her position at the forefront of the current women’s wrestling revolution, few wrestlers have experienced quite the roller coaster ride Sasha Banks has over the last few years. It’s not just the fact she won and lost the WWE Raw Women’s Championship three times in as many months, because Charlotte Flair did the same thing and somehow came out of it okay. The problem is that since their back and forth ended, Banks has quickly fallen down the card to the point she’s not really in contention for the gold any longer. That is, until she returned to prominence and regained the gold…for all of eight days, repeating her stop and start push to the top then back to the bottom all over again. Clearly, WWE just doesn’t see faith in Banks as a person who can carry her division for more than a few days, and after four failed attempts at letting her run with the ball, she should realize she’ll never get to hold on to it.
3 Samoa Joe
As soon as it was announced Samoa Joe had signed a contract to start working for NXT, there were skeptics worried the union between independent wrestling’s greatest monster and the biggest promotion in sports entertainment may not work. The truth is, there have been pros and cons to the arrangement, but Joe earns his placement on the list because we still have serious doubts this is the right career move for him. While Joe’s handful of title shots at Brock Lesnar’s Universal Championship are already surpassing expectations of how much he could achieve, the fact he didn’t win either of his high profile bouts against the Beast Incarnate means he’ll probably never hold the gold in WWE. Joe’s character only works as a complete destroyer of worlds, a mystique Lesnar alone is allowed to hold with Vince McMahon running the show. Because Joe can’t be the destructive beast that made him a star elsewhere in WWE, maybe he should go back to the places where he was really the baddest guy around.
2 Dean Ambrose
Of all the names on this list, we acknowledge that the “Lunatic Fringe” Dean Ambrose would probably be the most controversial. Arguably the most popular superstar in WWE for the past several years, Ambrose remains a huge star no matter how hard the company tries to book him as the third string in The Shield. It’s telling that he spent significantly less time as WWE Champion than either Seth Rollins or Roman Reigns despite earning much louder crowd responses, as well as the fact he was shunted on to SmackDown Live as champ while the other two reigned over Raw. The only logical conclusion fans can come to is that Ambrose is being punished for succeeding beyond his comrades, who Vince McMahon and company clear see as the more important wrestlers. Since WWE doesn’t seem to want him around and refuses to acknowledge he could be the biggest star they have, he may as well fulfill that role for a different company.
1 Vince McMahon
There have probably been a few people reading this list and shaking their heads the whole time, feeling like no matter how bad things get, these wrestlers are better off in WWE than anywhere else. Underneath the bright lights and flashing cameras, it doesn’t matter if they’re wrestling great matches in the main event; working for Vince McMahon, they’re all superstars. Strangely enough, that’s all well and good except for the fact McMahon is a madman slowly destroying all of their careers. That said, if the head honcho of WWE decided to pack up his bags and call it quits, moving on to whatever the next stage in his life may entail, there may be hope for everyone yet. Perhaps Triple H, his wife Stephanie, or her brother Shane could pick up the pieces and use each talent the way they deserve…on second thought, that’s less likely than everyone on the list up and quitting tomorrow to form their own rebel promotion, so we may as well keep our fingers crossed for the latter.