WWE Superstars come and go over the course of time. Rarely do they stay with WWE for their entire careers. Some make grand returns, some find permanent success elsewhere, and others fade into obscurity. For some WWE Superstars, being released is the final curtain drop and for others it’s like being sprung from prison. In recent years, WWE has made a spectacle with mass releases and has made the term “future endeavors” a part of wrestling culture. Fans sometimes can’t help but see the releases coming as they watch Raw and SmackDown Live. A WWE Superstar that all of sudden only appears on WWE Superstars, in lumberjack matches as a lumberjack, and backstage in a non-speaking role can tip fans off to their impending release. Fans might also see them stripped of their gimmick and become a jobber to the stars. Jobbing before leaving a company is a time honored tradition in pro wrestling. The release is usually followed by a 90 day no compete clause. On the surface, most might think being released from WWE is a worse case scenario. However, it has been proven time and time again that although WWE is the biggest game in town; it’s not the only game in town. With that said, let’s take a look at 15 WWE Superstars Who Need To Be Released.
17 Alberto Del Rio
Alberto Del Rio is on the bottom of this list because it appears he’s on his way out the WWE door anyway. However, Del Rio has needed to be released from the confinements of the WWE Universe for a long time. Del Rio’s return in October at WWE Hell in the Cell 2015 showed great promise after he pinned John Cena clean to win the WWE United States Championship. Del Rio looked to be the Latin star WWE had been searching for since Rey Mysterio. Unfortunately for him, it was all down hill from there. A failed run in the League of Nations faction, meaningless feuds, a controversial relationship with fellow WWE Superstar Paige, and a Wellness Policy violation all contributed to Del Rio needing to be future endeavored. Del Rio’s WWE days may be over but the lucha libre veteran is sure to show up again in Mexico. A showdown with AAA Mega Champion El Texano Jr. for the title he never lost could be a huge draw in Mexico.
16 Titus O’Neil
Titus O’Neil has had very little WWE success outside of the Prime Time Players tag team with Darren Young. PTP was the last team to hold the WWE Tag Team Championship before The New Day put a strangle hold on the belts. Being the answer to a trivia question is not a good thing in this case. O’Neil also has failed singles runs and the comical Slater-Gator tag team on his WWE resume. His current feud with former partner, Young, is also going nowhere. Time may be running out on the 39-year-old’s pro wrestling career. It might be time for a WWE exit if O’Neil is to be anything but a mid card player. TNA Wrestling has been a great option for former WWE mid card talent looking to get into the main event. Ethan Carter III FKA Derrick Batemen and Drew Galloway FKA Drew McIntyre are among those to have main event success in TNA after leaving WWE. A WWE release could equal a TNA World Championship reign for O’Neil.
15 Bo Dallas
Bo Dallas has never been able to carve out a niche in WWE. Fans didn’t Bo-lieve so he became a Social Outcast. With the Outcasts gone combined with recent legal problems, it might be time for Dallas to get the future endeavors treatment from WWE. The 26-year-old Dallas is far from finished in the wrestling business. A release could be the breath of fresh air he needs to get his wrestling career back on the right track. TNA Wrestling could be an option for Dallas. TNA has jumped on signing recently discarded WWE talent such Aron Rex FKA Damien Sandow, Drew Galloway FKA Drew McIntyre, and Tyrus FKA Brodus Clay. TNA would be smart to pick up a guy who has a rich wrestling bloodline. Dallas’ family includes current WWE Superstar Bray Wyatt (brother), and former WWE Superstars Mike Rotunda (father), Barry Windham (uncle), the late Blackjack Mulligan (grandfather), and former WCW Star Kendall Windham (uncle).
14 Rosa Mendes
Rosa Mendes was signed by WWE in 2006 during the company’s “model search experiment” era. WWE was signing models with little to no wrestling experience in the hopes of turning them into WWE Divas that could perform in the ring. Mendes was one of those model signings. Despite her attractive looks, Mendes has bounced around from gimmick to gimmick and from angle to angle with very little success. Her biggest success was a two-year run of managing Epico & Primo. However, Mendes’ biggest claim to fame in WWE might just be her run on the Total Divas reality television show. Mendes has limited ability inside the ring and at 36-years-old, her on screen value may be declining. It’s a cruel reality not unlike what we see happen to many actresses in Hollywood. The landscape of WWE women’s wrestling has also changed drastically in the last year. The Divas Championship and the term diva have been retired. The WWE Women’s Championship is now the jewel coveted by WWE Superstars in the women’s division on both Raw and SmackDown Live. The women’s division has been replenished with women wrestlers instead of models with no wrestling background. Mendes might benefit from a release rather than trying to hang on in a women’s division she’s unfamiliar with. Her in ring career might be in the rear view mirror, but a valet role in a company like TNA Wrestling or Ring of Honor could make sense.
13 Jack Swagger
Jack Swagger has had a WWE career characterized by extreme highs and lows. Swagger has been a World Heavyweight Champion and wrestled for that title at WrestleMania 29. He has also been a jobber to the stars on the “B” show, WWE Superstars. Swagger is physically gifted and is technically solid inside the ring given his size. However, Swagger has once again slipped into obscurity. Even in this new brand extension era, Swagger is a non-factor. A release from his WWE contract might be just what the doctor needs to order to cure what ails the “Real American”. The 34-year-old Swagger has a lot of gas left in the tank and would have a number of post WWE suitors such as TNA Wrestling and Ring of Honor. An interesting post WWE option could be travelling to the land of the rising sun. Big American wrestlers have found great success over the years in Japan. Hulk Hogan, Vader, and more recently Luke Gallows are among those American big men to have great success wrestling in Japan. Similar to Gallows, Swagger could actually use a successful stint in Japan to leverage a big return to WWE.
12 Curtis Axel
Curtis Axel’s WWE career has been marred by mediocrity and false promise. Axel is gifted inside the ring and shades of his legendary father, Mr. Perfect Curt Henning, can be seen in his matches. However, Axel has been behind the creative eight ball since his WWE debut in 2010. He wasn’t allowed to use his given name and was saddled with the ridiculous Michael McGillicutty name. In 2013, he was rebooted as a “Paul Heyman guy”, Curtis Axel. After losing the Intercontinental Championship, the rug was pulled out from underneath him. Axel lost Heyman as his mouthpiece and drifted into mid card alliances such as RybAxel and Social Outcasts. The brand split has also done nothing for Axel who has become “Mr. Irrelevant”. He needs a release from his WWE contract and needed it two years ago. The 36-year-old Axel would have value on the free-agent market. He’s a talented wrestler and would have the ability to once again use the Henning name. TNA Wrestling, Ring of Honor, and international companies like New Japan Pro Wrestling and AAA could all be great options for him.
11 Erick Rowan
Erick Rowan was one of the key members of the Wyatt Family. This giant of the ring found great success as one of the crazed followers of evil mastermind, Bray Wyatt. As a tag team contender with Luke Harper and as Wyatt’s muscle against the likes of John Cena, Kane, and The Undertaker, Rowan was extremely relevant. However, he has found little success in WWE outside the Wyatt Family. In 2014, Rowan had a brief and unsuccessful face run before rejoining the family. More recently, it looks like Rowan is on his own again and again his prospects don’t look promising. Last time he left the Wyatt Family, Rowan was set free by Wyatt. This time maybe WWE needs to set him free. Rowan is another big man who could benefit from going to Japan. And in his case it would be a return to Japan. Rowan once toured there with Pro Wrestling NOAH.
10 Sin Cara
Sin Cara has been used very sparingly since the brand split which saw him drafted to Raw. That might not be a good sign considering that there’s plenty of television time to go around. WWE could be waiting to utilize Cara in the cruiserweight division, which starts up soon. However, the 39-year-old could likely end up being the cruiserweight division’s jobber to the stars. Despite not being able to take the character with him, Jorge Arias, the current Sin Cara, would probably be better off getting his pink slip. He could revert back to using his previous masked identity, Incognito. A return to Mexico for a high profile rematch with the original Sin Cara, who is now known as Myzteziz, could be an interesting option for Arias. He could also draw interest from TNA Wrestling for their X Division. At his age, Arias could also benefit from TNA’s lighter schedule due to their heavy reliance on television tapings over live events.
8 Alicia Fox
Alicia Fox is another WWE Diva who was signed during the “model search experiment” era. However, unlike Mendes, Fox has shown consistency in the ring, which has led to some WWE success over the years including winning the WWE Divas championship. The 30-year-old Fox still has a lot of upside. She is extremely attractive and has shown that she can hang in the ring with the new crop of WWE women’s wrestlers such as Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte. Despite her upside, WWE has relegated Fox to a jobber in the Raw WWE Women’s division. Fox would definitely have value on the open market and maybe that’s where she needs to be if she’s going to be more than just a jobber. She would be a great addition to TNA Wrestling’s Knockouts division where she could rekindle an old rivalry with Gail Kim. Another interesting destination for Fox could be ROH’s Women of Honor. She would make a great heel in a company that prides itself on being the complete opposite of WWE.
R-Truth is still a talented and charismatic wrestler at the age of 44. However, how much longer can he maintain wrestling at a high level given WWE’s demanding schedule? Truth could use a much lighter schedule and getting his walking papers would give him that. A return to TNA Wrestling where he arguably had some of his greatest wrestling moments would make a lot of sense. Truth has always excelled in tag teams. His 3Live Kru team with Konnan and The Road Dogg was one of TNA’s all time great tag teams. With the right partner, Truth could help make the TNA tag team division a little deeper. Another logical option would be working for original TNA owner Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling. Both companies would offer Truth a much lighter schedule than the grueling one he has with WWE at the moment. Given his phenomenal shape combined with a lighter schedule, Truth could possibly wrestle well into his late 50s.
Goldust is still wrestling great matches but he’s being used less and less these days. His tag team, The Golden Truth, with R-Truth has become more of a comedy act. The 47-year-old Goldust, like Truth, could really use a lighter schedule if he plans to remain an active wrestler. The only problem is that the Goldust character is property of WWE. A return to TNA Wrestling would mean wrestling as Dustin Rhodes or coming up with another character. He could chose the small independent wrestling circuit in which case he would have a better chance of getting away with using the Goldust character. Yet a third interesting option is wrestling with and against his brother Cody Rhodes on the independent wrestling circuit. Both Cody Rhodes vs Dustin Rhodes and The Rhodes Brothers in tag team action would mean big, ticket sales for independent wrestling promoters around the world. Their famous father, the late American Dream Dusty Rhodes, made the Rhodes name very marketable in the world of pro wrestling.
Paige is currently serving a WWE Wellness Policy violation suspension. Despite her erratic behavior as of late, Paige doesn’t appear to be leaving WWE anytime soon. However, Paige might benefit from a WWE release. Since winning the WWE Divas Championship in her WWE debut, Paige has been a victim of 50/50 booking and other creative decisions. As a result, she has been stale and unable to gain any career momentum. Paige would have a ton of wrestling options if WWE suddenly granted her a release. She would be a perfect fit in TNA Wrestling’s Knockouts Division. Gail Kim, Jade, and Allie would all be interesting opponents for Paige in TNA. She would also be a huge addition to Ring of Honor’s new women’s division called Women of Honor. Paige could also follow her boyfriend, Alberto Del Rio, who undoubtedly will be making a return to the ring wars of Mexico. And, there’s always returning home to the UK where her mother and brothers are wrestlers and her father is a wrestling promoter.
3 Darren Young
Darren Young’s WWE career is very similar to his former tag team partner Titus O’Neil’s WWE career. Young has seen very little success outside of their tag team, The Prime Time Players. Winning the tag team titles with O’Neil, a stint in the Nexus faction, and his current run with life coach Bob Backlund are his biggest accomplishments in WWE. The 32-year-old Young has struggled to stay relevant but has plenty of time to right the ship. However, a trip to the unemployment line might be his ticket to greener pastures. Like O’Neil, Young could find main event matches for himself in TNA Wrestling. Another interesting but complicated possibility could be a Nexus reunion on the independent wrestling circuit. Nostalgia is a popular theme on the indy wrestling scene and the Nexus would certainly qualify. Wade Barrett, Ryback, Justin Gabriel, and Michael Tarver are all former members of the original Nexus who are currently free agents. Young could also make a nice building block in Jeff Jarrett’s fledgling Global Force Wrestling.
Cesaro is one of the bigger WWE mysteries. It’s really puzzling as to why the talented “Swiss Superman” hasn’t had more WWE success. Despite winning the WWE United States Championship, WWE Tag Team Championship, and
2014 Andre the Giant Battle Royal, Cesaro more often than not has been irrelevant. Whether it was The Real Americans tag team or his current meaningless best of seven series with Sheamus, he has always found his way into mid card obscurity. If he were released today, Cesaro could definitely become an international wrestling force. Before his WWE days, Cesaro wrestled around the world and would again be a very sought after international free agent. Touring and dominating the globe would bring him back to prominence and could also have WWE knocking at his door again. And let’s not forget there would also be the possibility of Cesaro reforming the highly successful Kings of Wrestling tag team with Chris Hero.
1 Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler’s WWE career can be summed up by the saying, “so close yet so far away”. Despite winning multiple championships including the World Heavyweight Championship, Ziggler has never been considered among the elite in WWE such as John Cena, Brock Lesnar, or The Undertaker. However, his longevity in WWE and superior skills in the ring suggest that he should be. The 36-year-old Ziggler is at a cross roads when it comes to his legacy. He still has time to become one of the all time greats. Ziggler might have to hear the words, “You’re fired”, to capture that greatness. Because he is so talented in the ring, Ziggler would be an extremely marketable free agent. If released, his best bet might be to take a page from Cody Rhodes’ post WWE playbook. Rhodes has opted to not sign an exclusive deal with anyone and has been taking on the best talent on the independent wrestling circuit. Rhodes could be setting himself up for a great WWE return in a year or so. Ziggler could also go the way of AJ Styles and head over to New Japan Pro Wrestling. Styles turned that into a great deal with WWE. Ziggler has the talent to succeed but maybe he needs to teach WWE the old song, “Don’t Know What You Got Till It’s Gone”.