World Wrestling Entertainment is easily the biggest promotion in professional wrestling. There are other promotions like Total Nonstop Action, Ring of Honor and others outside of the United States, but the WWE is the place where most wrestlers want to go. There are also so many spots available at any given time.
Most years, the WWE usually makes a round of cuts where they release a number of superstars who haven’t quite lived up to their potential. Many of them spent a lot of time on the main roster and just didn’t get over with the fans. There are also superstars that the WWE had in their developmental system who just couldn’t put all of the pieces together.
There are also a number of established superstars who know they are worthy of more opportunities. They have the skills, the charisma and even the fan support, but with the crowd of superstars who are trying to compete for main event status, they can be lost in the shuffle. This leads to some of them requesting their release from the company to find opportunities elsewhere.
Every year, fans read stories about several superstars who are let go from the WWE – whether voluntarily or involuntarily. It’s part of the rotation of talents the WWE sees on a consistent basis. Room has to be made for many of the independent wrestling stars they have already signed or are currently scouting.
The following are 15 WWE superstars who were released from the WWE – one way or another – and what they are up to currently.
Ryback had a messy departure from WWE. He was initially sent home in May due to a contract dispute. After not appearing as advertised for an event, Ryback posted on his Tumblr page that he had made the decision to go home, citing a lack of equal pay and creative frustration.
In early August, the WWE made it official, when they announced they were releasing Ryback. Since his departure, Ryan Allen Reeves kept himself busy. Just a month after leaving WWE, Reeves got his name changed legally to Ryback Allen Reeves, which allowes him to bill himself as Ryback.
He's taken many bookings on the independent circuit since then, even winning the WrestlePro Tag Team Titles with Pat Buck.
15 Sara Lee
Tough Enough produced a few superstars who found some success in the WWE -- not many, but things did work out for John Hennigan (a.k.a. John Morrison). Carolyn “CJ” Dunning, known as Sara Lee, was the female winner of Tough Enough in 2015 after a time in the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and competing in bodybuilding competitions. While she spent nearly a year in NXT, she never wrestled on television or at any live events before being released in October. There were reports that she was interested in working for TNA Wrestling, but she has yet to appear on Impact Wrestling.
According to her LinkedIn account, Dunning has worked as an account executive for Randstad USA with a focus on accounting and finance. It was her position before she left for the WWE Performance Center. She recently announced that she was having a baby girl on Twitter, meaning her return to the ring may be delayed.
14 Zamariah “ZZ” Loupe
Josh Bredl was the man who eventually won the male title of WWE’s Tough Enough in 2015. Since then, he competed in NXT under the name Bronson Matthews. He was the man the fans kept voting out of elimination, despite not being viewed as a potential superstar by WWE officials. Zamariah “ZZ” Loupe was given a developmental contract of his own. ZZ didn’t have the look of a superstar and he also received criticism for his work. Just ask Oney Lorcan.
The story would end with ZZ being released from his NXT contract in July after having mostly live event wins. He was released with reports saying he was lazy and not dropping weight fast enough. In October, ZZ was announced to be training with Wildkat Sports and Entertainment in New Orleans. There have also been some positive reviews of his work ethic recently.
13 Sylvester LeFort and Marcus Louis
One day after his release from NXT in February, Sylvester LeFort would post a statement on his Twitter account where he borrowed an analogy from his NXT tag team partner, Marcus Louis, about someone being able to play the role in NXT better than him. With all of the incoming talent to the NXT roster, LeFort became one of those names who became expendable by the WWE. The French gimmick didn’t work out for Louis and LeFort.
He did tell fans that they didn’t hear the last from him. Since his departure from the WWE, he now competes under the name Tom LaRuffa for various promotions in Europe. He also spent a brief period of time in TNA Wrestling teaming with the former Marcus Louis (Baron Dax) as part of Al Snow’s faction called The Tribunal.
12 Bull Dempsey
Bull Dempsey was a monstrous man who was placed in a more comedic role shortly after the arrival of independent superstars like Kevin Owens. However, his Bull-Fit character was definitely an entertaining one to watch before he was eventually released from his NXT contract in February. He said he didn’t notice any writing on the wall with coaches, saying the news of his departure was a surprise.
However, he’s been able to find consistent work back in the independent circuit. Competing under the name Bull James, he’s competed in the northeast part of the United States for promotions like House of Hardcore and Ring of Honor. He has certainly taken the bad news as motivation to improve himself for a potential return to the WWE.
11 El Torito
With Primo and Epico receiving a character update from Los Matadores, the man who competed as El Torito would be released from his WWE contract in May. There were some funny moments with a tiny bull, which included a good match with Hornswoggle in a “WeeLC” match that got some positive reviews. However, no one complained when he was released from the WWE.
But the smaller wrestler has continued to work in Mexico as Mascarita Dorada. That’s where he first worked before the WWE signed him to a contract. Mascarita Dorada managed to win championship gold in Mexico, including the AAA Mascot Tag Team Championship with his brother Mascarita Segrada, who has recently appeared on Lucha Underground. Dorada also held the Mexican National Mini-Estrella Championship on two occasions.
There were not a lot of WWE fans who were saddened by Cameron’s release from the WWE. She was just one name among several in May, but she had gotten a lot of heat for some comments she made on social media. The person behind the character, Ariane Andrew, said in an interview on Steve Austin’s podcast that it was just part of a pile of bad news – including a breakup with her boyfriend.
Since the departure, Andrew has retired from professional wrestling. She’s also been able to improve her physical shape by being able to spend more time on workouts and different activities. She claims she’s in the best shape of her life and is better off not doing hundreds of shows per year.
9 Adam Rose
Working as Leo Kruger in Florida Championship Wrestling and NXT for years wasn’t working out for Ray Leppan, but a character change to the fun-loving, party enthusiast Adam Rose led to a quick rise to the WWE main roster in 2014. However, his status in the WWE continued to decline as he had multiple violations of the WWE Talent Wellness Policy, though Rose would contest the second violation and 60-day suspension, claiming that he was taking prescribed medicines.
In May, Rose requested to be released by the WWE and the company obliged. He’s changed his look by shaving his head and he’s kept the party gimmick as Aldo Rose, but it’s a much edgier character than the PG-friendly Rose in WWE. Since his release, Rose has competed for various independent promotions, mostly in the northeast region.