Most wrestlers’ ultimate goal is likely to be on WWE TV one day. The largest wrestling company in the world, there is no debating that the quickest and longest lasting way to wrestling fame and financial gain for wrestlers today lies in becoming a WWE superstar. That doesn’t mean that everyone who works there is happy. Over the last few years, there have been more and more instances of wrestlers leaving McMahon’s employ, sometimes of their own accord and sometimes not, to then deride the company itself.
So, today we will be looking at fifteen current WWE employees who are most likely to end their time in the company on a sour note. People like John Cena or Kane, who seem to be shoo-ins to remain in the good graces of Vince forever, barring some kind of severe controversy won’t be found here. Instead, we set about finding the men and women who time and time again had any momentum they managed to cultivate crushed and seem to be the types to not take that indignity lying down. Wrestlers whose deals are just allowed to expire without resigning also qualify for our list.
A situation that is already underway to a degree, this pick was by far the easiest to predict so we put it in our last slot. A massive man who seems like the embodiment of everything we’ve been led to believe Vince McMahon loves, Ryback could have been a pretty big deal in the WWE. Instead, aside from a short run in main events against CM Punk, a man who made his real life disdain for Ryback very clear, he was never able to fight his way out of the mid card. So, when the news hit the internet that he’d either gone home of his own volition or been sent there by WWE higher ups, our eyebrows didn’t raise too much. Evidently his contract is set to expire very soon and he and his bosses are at an impasse when it comes to finances and most importantly the treatment he and his peers who lose more matches than not receive. Fighting for WWE wrestler salaries to be normalized, he believes that winners and losers, champs and chumps should make similar money, something that will never happen. If he hadn’t taken his argument to the people the end of his business relationship with the WWE could have been amicable, clearly that is no longer likely.
14 Elias “The Drifter” Samson
An NXT wrestler who signed with the company in 2014, Elias introduced his Drifter character to the world in 2016, to a resounding sound of silence or boos. A man who sings his way to the ring while acting like the vision a drama student with no knowledge of the world might think of a “drifter”, the fans rejected this iteration of him completely. Subsequently put in matches and/or feuds with men like Apollo Crews, Finn Balor, and Shinsuke Nakamura, he has had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented men in NXT yet his character feels as cold as ever. Although it doesn’t appear that Trips and the NXT crew have given up on him yet, other men who’ve served as jobbers to the stars in NXT, like Bull Dempsey and CJ Parker, didn’t last long and we’re guessing Sampson may not either. A man who seems to have a great deal of potential, had he not been saddled with a ludicrous character, we could easily see Elias having some legitimate gripes when his time is done.
13 Summer Rae
There are few performers today that seem as innately hateable as this performer, which should make her a huge asset to have on your roster but you’d never know it. Involved in petty Total Divas rivalries and soap opera styled storylines with Fandango, Dolph Ziggler, Lana, Rusev and Tyler Breeze, every run she has had on the main roster has been abandoned suddenly. Employed by the biggest wrestling company in the world, which reportedly has a writing staff of around thirty people, the fact that they can’t make a reviled star out of Summer is a disgrace. If we were her, we’d already have a bee in our bonnet, which would be multiplied a hundred fold if we were dismissed.
Considering she's only been on Main Event and a Raw or SmackDown here and there since her WrestleMania pre-show match, chances are fairly high she'll be getting the boot soon enough - and it probably won't be pretty.
12 Blake & Murphy
A tandem that recently broke up and was stripped of their manager, the always gorgeous Alexa Bliss, the decision to start them both anew is puzzling. Former NXT Tag team Champions who’d gone the extra mile to turn themselves into a real unit since they were first put together, they seemed like they could have added value to any tag division they were a part of. Especially in light of the decision to create different rosters for Smackdown and Raw, the need for teams to fill out time on the main shows has never been higher. All things considered, the decision to take an entertaining team who had real chemistry together and turn it into two men who need to recreate themselves from the ground up is baffling. Significantly upping the chance that both men will not last long in the WWE, especially with other prospects like Samoa Joe and Austin Aries bidding for opportunities, Blake & Murphy may walk away with chips on their shoulders.
11 Austin Aries
Wait, what were we saying about Austin Aries? An immensely talented man who years ago tried to take part in the Steve Austin season of Tough Enough, his rejection at that time, from his own admission, almost led to him retiring outright. Given new life afterwards by a pretty great run in TNA, Austin finally got his chance to show what he can do under WWE contract and so far, we’re a little underwhelmed. By no means do we believe that Austin can’t recover from his current placement on the card but it does seem pretty obvious that his new bosses see him as lesser than he sees himself. A man that carries himself with a massive, and arguably well-deserved, ego , our impression that he is seen as a great hand who can help to give younger talent some experience may not sit well with him. If that day comes to pass, there are few men this side of CM Punk who are better equipped to spew vitriol laden promos at the WWE.
10 Tyler Breeze
For long-time observers of Tyler Breeze’s tenure in the WWE, and those who watched the docu-series Breaking Ground, we’d have thought Tyler could amount to something on the main roster. Holy crap were we mistaken, so far at least. Why in the world would they have pulled this talented grappler up to the big leagues if they had no plans to use him in any meaningful fashion? Somebody who was trained by Lace Storm, another ring professional who never got his fair due in the WWE, Tyler has the ability to hold his own with the most respected workers in the company. At this rate, instead of being stuck in that goofy tag team with Fandango, he might as well be sent back to NXT where he was able to thrive. If we’re this irritated that he has been so mishandled, we can only imagine his tongue will be pretty sharp when he gets told creative has nothing for him.
The manager to The Bulgarian Brute, there was a time that Lana could have easily been in the running for the most popular woman in the WWE, despite standing beside a Russian nationalist. Those days are long gone. Broken up onscreen from her real life beau while their act was white hot, she was placed in a horrific tandem with Dolph Ziggler and her career hasn’t recovered since. Additionally, if rumors are to be believed, she managed to raise the ire of her bosses when she announced her out of character engagement to Rusev on social media and is seen as a danger in the ring. Having recently reunited on television with her man, the duo seems to be rebuilding the momentum they once enjoyed but this run may go as awry as their first and there is no telling how long she could survive that. Already proven that she will not stifle her personal feelings, no matter the potential effect on her career, we wouldn’t be at all surprised if she was unable to contain herself upon being wished her future endeavors.
8 Mandy Rose
A very recent hire that was given a contract and a spot on WWE’s “reality show” Total Divas, despite failing to win the Tough Enough season she competed in, Mandy seems like a relic of the divas division. Today, the WWE has put a higher premium than ever before on the actual wrestling skills of the women they hire, a trend that Mandy absolutely flies in the face of. Utterly inexperienced prior to her time on WWE television, while competing on Tough Enough she showed that she is far from a natural, struggling to learn even basic moves. That may be an unfair comparison as most youngsters starting out in the industry don’t have their rookie days broadcast on national television but that is what Mandy signed up for so we’re not going easy on her. Looking like she could easily take Eva Marie’s place as a lightning rod for fans, she may be a beautiful woman but she seems to lack the outrageous personality of her red forbearer so we don’t have confidence in a long tenure for her. If that is the case, she will likely hold a lot of resentment for the haters who took her down and the company that listened to them.
7 Mojo Rawley
Mojo Rawley doesn’t get hyped, he stays hyped. A performer who was given a great deal of advanced hype (see what we did there?) before making his NXT debut, this former American football defensive lineman has never caught on with the passionate fans he performs in front of, despite the confidence of his bosses. After a singles run that made many observers see him as an overexcited weirdo who has mediocre matches, he was teamed with Zach Ryder, a man whose career is the polar opposite, loved by fans and ignored by the company. When the day comes for Mojo to receive his walking papers -which can honestly happen at any day and not a single wrestling fan would even blink- his emotional range may stay the same, meaning he won’t get mad, he’ll stay mad. As long as his Hype Bros teammate doesn't end up being released - oh wait...
6 Zack Ryder
If Zack didn’t seem like such a congenial guy, he would have easily taken the top spot on this list. Taking his career in his hands, when it became clear that the WWE didn’t have big plans for him, Zack went off and turned himself into an internet darling. Creating Z! True Long Island Story, a YouTube show that allowed him to show how entertaining he can be, it caught on and made fans demand a place for him at the WWE table. Given a short run as United States champion and a tenure as John Cena’s little buddy, he was a made a fool of and fed to Kane before all but disappearing. Given one more shiny moment in the sun at WrestleMania 32, he once again was relegated to underseen shows after a one night reign. The epitome of the hypocrisy of the company, Zack proves that their doctrine that they listen to their fans is embellished at best. He has every right to hold those that have routinely held him back in contempt.
5 Roman Reigns
Okay, okay, hear us out with this one. Roman Reigns is very clearly Vince McMahon’s passion project as perfectly evidenced by the fact that he already has three reigns as WWE Champion under his belt. Any long time fan will be able to tell you that he is far from the first man that has held a special place in the old man’s heart and sometimes those people don’t exactly work out as planned. There is little doubt, especially in the light of his fantastic matches with men like Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles, that he is far better at his job than men like Psycho Sid but that doesn’t mean his story will end well.
A man who is highly sought after by press, his interviews have given us a view into how the man sees himself and saying things like “I’m just a guy getting rich” in interviews speaks to his ego. Additionally, responding to a critical fan on Twitter by saying “Looks like your sex life is going to struggle”, something he said long before his recent quasi-heel turn, tells us that he resents the backlash. Making us look back on the aborted push of Lex Luger, a man Roman clearly outdoes in the ring makes it clear that WWE is capable of changing directions. If they choose another heir apparent to John Cena’s top guy crown, the insights we have into Roman’s actual character make it seem like he may not swallow that pill.
4 The Ascension
Arguably the most successful team in NXT history, The Ascension ran roughshod over their competition in a manner that brings to mind the glory days of The Road Warriors. Although they don’t stack up to teams that had a similar aura in years past, like Demolition or the aforementioned Warriors, they certainly could have been given a much better opportunity on the main roster. Turned into a pale imitation of legendary teams once they made their debut, the fact that they were told to claim dominance over teams that had earned respect ensured anger and disgust would follow. The problem though was it wasn’t the type of reaction people have to those they’d loved to see vanquished, instead the people just wanted them to go away. When the day comes that they do, the fact that they seem to have been set up for failure would force anyone, but the most patient of people, to rage.
A short-lived project of Vince McMahon who was even given a WrestleMania feud - and win- against Chris Jericho, Fandango walked out of Mania 29 as one of the most talked about performers in the company. You couldn't find a wrestling fan who didn't hum his entrance song and dance along to his theme. My, how times have changed. Currently involved in a team with Tyler Breeze that has been feuding with Goldust and R-Truth, this story which is hated by most fans is actually a promotion for him - at least he's getting TV time and involved in a storyline, however terrible it is. At one time the focus of a viral dance craze, the WWE’s inability to be cool and refrain from overexposing a trend ruined his ability to capitalize on that immense potential. We wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he doesn’t feel extremely spurned from his meteoric rise and dire plummet to and from stardom.
2 Baron Corbin
Let’s be frank, Baron Corbin seems like he is an a-hole. Carrying himself with a massive ego during his appearances on WWE Breaking Ground, a docu-series that focused on the behind the scenes machinations of NXT, he seems like Brock Lesnar without the athleticism. His gimmick of going after wrestlers who established themselves in the indies almost seems like a real life representation of the guy. He may surprise us all and show some real passion for his profession and we think that he has a great deal of potential as a villain but we don’t expect him to ever hold a candle to men with names like Styles or Owens. The company may have faith in him, as he won the Andre the Giant Battle Royal and WrestleMania 32, but we're unsure of what lies ahead. If he fails to reach his goals, which appear to be principally focused on glory and money, he will no doubt have a lot of choice words for everyone involved.
1 Alberto Del Rio
It has already happened once; Alberto was released by the WWE on bad terms. After he slapped someone behind the scenes due to a racist comment which drew a great deal of ire from observers, he was sent packing while the man he tangled with remained employed for several days. Alberto, for his part, remained mostly mum as he continued wrestling in other promotions, putting on amazing matches, showing the wrestling universe just how good of a performer he is when he's not fiddling his thumbs waiting for creative to find something for him (and no, League of Nations was not a good idea). But from all accounts, his silence was mandated by an agreement he’d made with the WWE. So, what happens when he finds himself unemployed yet again, after returning and toiling in the mid card, without such an agreement in place? Alberto seems like the type of man who has a smile on his face more often than not but that doesn’t preclude him from spitting some well deserved fire against those who did him wrong- twice.