In May, both Cody Rhodes and Aaron Haddad (WWE’s Damion Sandow) asked to be released and their request was granted by WWE. We believe the disgruntled superstars clashed with creative and a lack of direction for their characters. With an enormous wealth of talented performers on the roster, it’s no surprise that they got lost in the shuffle and faded into obscurity.
Losing your job might be the toughest challenge you have to go through, but for Rhodes and Haddad, leaving the WWE could be the best thing for their careers. We live in a great time to be wrestling fans. Everyone knows of the WWE but a global wrestling revolution has taken root because the internet allows us to watch different promotions all around the world. From New Japan Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Noah, and Dragon Gate in Japan, to Asistencia Asesoría y Administración and Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre in Mexico, wrestlers have a lot of options. Let us not forget in the States, you have Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Lucha Underground (an extension of AAA), Ring of Honor, and TNA Impact Wrestling as destinations for wrestlers leaving the WWE.
A lot of these promotions are the complete opposite of the WWE in regards to structure, work flow, creativity, and in-ring action, which can be a benefit to these superstars who leave the big show. What’s the saying? One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure. What if Rhodes becomes the biggest thing outside of the WWE? Is it plausible, yes, will it happen, maybe not, but the fact of the matter is there’s success beyond the WWE.
We live in a time where every match can be streamed or uploaded in due time. This is a reason why these “indie” and global promotions have become popular over the years. So don’t be surprised if your favorite wrestler ends up asking for his or her walking papers. Just know that it won’t be the end of their career and they may have a brighter future ahead.
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16 Alberto Del Rio
Del Rio’s track record for success after leaving the WWE is widely known and it wouldn’t change if he departed from the company today. In August 2014, Del Rio was involved in an altercation with then WWE's Manager of Social Media Live Events, Cody Barbierri. The incident led to the termination of Del Rio’s contract and he would return to AAA as El Patrón. It didn’t take long for him to feud with the top guy in the promotion, beating El Texano Jr. for the AAA Mega Championship in Dec. He would work for other promotions such as World Wrestling Council, ROH and Lucha Underground before coming back to the WWE in late 2015.
15 Sin Cara
The night his tag-team partner Kalisto won the U.S. Championship against Alberto Del Rio was the night Sin Cara was no longer needed. We all know the WWE has been looking for their next Rey Mysterio Jr. and we also know that they rarely have more than one luchador on the main roster. So, it’s seems like Sin Cara will be regulated to jobbing for a while. It would be cool to see him turn heel on Kalisto, but that’s probably not going to happen. Yes, he can botch, but he also works hurt and is one of the better luchadores in the world. He style can easily help him to become a champion and make a lot of money in Mexico or Japan.
14 Zack Ryder
We all thought big things were in store for Ryder after he won the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 32. Not even 24 hours later, he lost it to The Miz. That’s the story of Ryder in a nutshell. WWE just pulls the push for a minute and then stops it without an explanation. The Long Island product is over with the crowd, regardless of how low he is put on the card and he can definitely shine in another promotion. However, he’s making so much money ($535,035), so do you blame him for staying?
13 Jack Swagger
Anyone else tired of seeing Swagger in a squash match with WWE’s U.S. Champion Rusev? We are, but that doesn’t mean Swagger can’t succeed elsewhere. Yes, he’s had issues outside the ring, but we think Swagger can still make it somewhere else. His character and style is just played out in the WWE. He would work wonders as a heel in AAA or Lucha Underground. The guy is an All-American wrestler out of the University of Oklahoma, so his athletic ability is not his problem. Who’s down to see Kurt Angle vs Jack Swagger in an ankle lock match? We are.
12 The Ascension
The longest reigning tag team champions in NXT were ruined in just one vignette showing them as retro Legion of Doom imposters going after old timers (New Age Outlaws). Thank you Kevin Dunn (member of Board of Directors) for probably being the one who ruined The Ascension. Allegedly, Dunn hates most NXT call ups and is the main reason to why some can’t flourish in the big leagues. Case in point The Ascension, as they teared up the tag division in NXT, but were regulated to cheap segments and terrible promos during RAW. We wouldn’t be surprised if both wrestlers aren’t on the roster by the end of the year.
Once known as Johnny Curtis on NXT, Fandango and his theme music were a popular hit not so long ago. In 2013, fans started embracing his entrance music, singing along and dancing to the tunes. He even faced Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 29 in a winning effort. Since then, Fandango has been jobbing to everyone on the roster. His gimmick is stale and even his tag team partnership with Tyler Breeze might not last that long. He’s a great talent who’s been a professional since 1999. That’s pretty impressive for a guy who’s only 34-years old.
10 Mark Henry
Yes, Henry is on the verge of retirement and gets paid extremely well. So why isn't the WWE letting him have a few more feuds and great moments. “Sexual Chocolate” is the ultimate wrestler, a team player, can be a heel or face, and is always available for any situation. Imagine if he left and did a tour with ROH or NJPW. He would be a great hit in whatever role they give him. We'd rather see this legend getting a few big wins against top competition outside the WWE than being thrown over the ropes in a Royal Rumble in only a few minutes, and with ease.
9 Curtis Axel
Where can we begin with Curtis Axel? After debuting as Michael McGillicutty on the second season of NXT he was repackaged. His best moments came after beating Triple H twice in 2013 and then winning the Intercontinental Championship a few weeks later. Since then, he’s fallen to the lowest point on the card, wrestling in a three-man stable called The Social Outcasts. His “Axel Mania” skit was gaining attraction but after Hulk Hogan’s racists comments were made public, they quickly dropped the act. He’s a third generation superstar, son of Curt Hennig (WWE’s Mr. Perfect), and has helped Brock Lesnar and The Rock get rid of their ring rust during their comebacks. He has the tools, abilities, and experience to make it big outside the WWE.
The Hart family member has done it all for the WWE. She’s been the champion, held it down with inexperienced wrestlers in NXT, and can be relied on for a long lasting feud. Recently, she’s been in a feud with the Women’s Champion Charlotte and Dana Brooke. As the most seasoned female wrestler on the roster, you would think she would get the John Cena treatment. That’s not the case and we don’t see her winning the belt any time soon. The women’s revolution has brought in Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, and Bayley. All these girls will be likely winning the championship before Nattie gets a whiff of it again, leaving her in obscurity. She would be an instant champion outside of the WWE and any promotion looking to bolster their women’s division would gladly sign her.
7 Tyler Breeze
Tyler Breeze was very over in NXT but has fallen to new lows in the WWE. He was constantly jobbing to wrestlers on the main roster, so we were happy to see him get a singles win against Goldust in May. Since then, WWE’s creative has teamed him up with Fandango and they’ve feuded with Goldust and R-Truth but we don’t see anything coming out of it. He’s better as a singles star and can work at a great pace. His matches with Samoa Joe in NXT were praised and he put on a great performance against Jushin Liger at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn last year. His style can easily work in other promotions and he has the face for it.
She has the same problem as Nattie does, but has fewer years under her belt. The two -time Women’s Champion has been on the back burner as of late, wrestling in matches that don’t mean much. With Lynch, Banks, and Bayley probably next in line for a championship run, Paige is going to have to wait a long time. She can easily ask for her release and be an instant star elsewhere. At 23-years old, she already has done plenty with her career and a more relaxed schedule in another promotion could be in her future.
5 Hideo Itami
He was supposed to be the guy who brought in the Japanese fan base, but a shoulder injury has kept him on the sidelines for over a year. Time flies and new people show up at WWE, making Itami all but forgotten while he recovers. Even when he comes back, he might not be the same and the WWE has found a new star from Japan in Shinsuke Nakamura. We praise Itami for trying to make it on the WWE, but we don’t see Vince given him much of a shot as of now. He’s better off going back to Japan or a promotion in the States that can cater to his style.
4 Luke Harper
Luke Harper can absolutely move for big man and has the psychological game all worked out. With his size and speed, not many wrestlers can do what he does. He’s been overshadowed by the talented Bray Wyatt, pushed out of the way for Vince’s favorite pet project in Braun Strowman, and wasn’t even given a tag team title run with his partner Erick Rowan while working for the WWE. He did have a short reign as Intercontinental Champion, but was more of a transitional champion. Maybe this is a case of too many cooks in the kitchen, but Harper deserves a better push as one of the faces of fear.
3 Dolph Ziggler
In 2015, there was speculation that Ziggler would be leaving the WWE. People were clamoring for him to move to TNA Impact or be a part of NJPW’s Bullet Club. We know now that he did not resign, most likely taking the finical security over becoming instant championship material in another promotion. Ziggler has the stones and chops to be the top guy in any organization. He was white hot in 2013, winning the World Heavyweight Championship after cashing in his MITB contract. Recently, he has been in a feud with Baron Corbin, which isn’t even on the mid-card. Basically, he’s going to stay around the mid-card belts and help out the younger guys, never reaching that momentum he has in ’13.
“The Swiss Superman” is without a doubt one of the greatest in-ring workers in the world. You can probably blindfold him and he will still get a great match out of it. Everyone recognizes his work and he got organically over with the crowd. So what’s wrong? Ask Vince McMahon, who said on the Steve Austin Podcast that Cesaro doesn’t have the “it” factor. A shoulder injury in 2015 derailed his momentum as a top tier wrestler but since he came back he’s been involved with the Intercontinental Championship and will be in the MITB match. We guarantee he won’t win the contract and fall back into the mid-tier rankings. It’s a shame because we know how good of a wrestler he really is.
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