The world of professional wrestling can be a challenging career option for any athlete, especially in the very demanding world of World Wrestling Entertainment. Not everyone can find immediate success when there is no off-season – unlike many professional sports leagues and promotions – and there are about 250 or more shows per year for the average WWE superstars.
Some have done well over recent years with the success that many of the new generation of WWE superstars have found, including Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. At the same time, there are a number of veterans and young talents who may or may not be on the potential chopping block in the WWE. Some deserve being placed on that cut list, while others shouldn’t give up on their dreams of being a superstar worthy of the WWE Hall of Fame – maybe even having a memorable moment that helps define the legacy of WrestleMania.
The following lists eight WWE superstars who should consider leaving the WWE, whether leaving professional wrestling altogether to find a new career or needing a change of scenery with another promotion. Additionally, there are eight WWE Superstars who should hang in there and continue the good fight towards their WWE dreams.
16 Stay: Alberto Del Rio
While Alberto Del Rio doesn’t have the best personality on the microphone, as seen during the recent build-up towards the Money in the Bank ladder match, he’s had some very good matches against some of the upcoming talents in the WWE. Del Rio is likely someone who can work better with the new generation of superstars because of their experience wrestling for multiple independent promotions – this is not the case for all members of the WWE roster from Del Rio’s first run in the company between 2010 and 2014.
It would be great to see Del Rio go into matches with some of the expected NXT call-ups soon that include names like Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe. The WWE is evolving and having a veteran of different styles like Del Rio is essential for helping develop the new era, which makes Del Rio even more valuable for the WWE.
15 Quit: Sin Cara
Sure, this isn’t the original wrestler to go by Sin Cara who suffered a number of different injuries and terrible mistakes during matches. But the man currently wrestling as Sin Cara has not been able to really stand out on his own, which seems to be why he was put into a tag team with fellow luchador Kalisto. In recent months, it seems like Kalisto is starting to shine on his own with rivalries with Del Rio, Ryback and other superstars for the WWE United States Championship.
With the highly likely split of the Lucha Dragons, there really isn’t much one can expect the creative team to be able to do with Sin Cara moving forward. The odds are very likely to see him among those who are listed in WWE’s next mass release from the roster to make room for incoming talents from NXT. Even with the brand split, don’t expect Sin Cara to be anything more than an enhancement talent with entrance music.
14 Stay: Heath Slater
Maybe he doesn’t have the most impressive win-loss record in his WWE career, but there’s a lot of things to like about Heath Slater. He definitely has charisma to be the leader of the current Social Outcasts faction, which has been good for some laughs with other superstars who have struggled on the main roster. It’s also giving them something to do that makes them more than just jobbers.
But with Slater, he definitely has personality that can easily translate into potential towards being a mid-tier heel champion – i.e. the United States Championship or like how The Miz has been with the Intercontinental Championship. The upcoming brand split could be extremely beneficial for Slater in moving up in status in either Raw or SmackDown. Maybe if the WWE can pair him with a larger superstar to be a bodyguard-type character, he could have a better chance to flourish in the coming year.
13 Quit: Curtis Axel
No one would really blame Curtis Axel if he wanted to leave the WWE. The son of “Mr. Perfect,” Curt Hennig is just one of the recent examples of a second-generation wrestler who had some struggles in the WWE, which is a shame for someone who carries a strong bloodline and shows plenty of in-ring skill. However, this is the WWE and being able to pull off different moves is not going to make someone a big star in the WWE.
Axel has had a variety of characters in his career, but has struggled to show the type of personality that his father was able to exude during his career in the 1990s between both WWE and WCW. It would be nice to say that Axel could benefit from going to another promotion like TNA or Ring of Honor, but he’s more likely to take a similar route that Ted DiBiase, Jr., took and find a different career path away from the squared circle.
12 Stay: Titus O’Neil
It took some time for Titus O’Neil to be able to develop into a strong WWE superstar, including that period of time with the NXT brand that went from a reality-type show for rookies and into a D-league brand of the WWE roster. One of the best things the WWE did was help him debut onto the main roster as a tag team partner with Darren Young to form the Prime Time Players. It gave him a chance to build his in-ring abilities since 2012.
Now that he’s become a singles star and has been able to show more of his personality, O’Neil is likely to become one of the top big men the WWE will need when some of the great giants like Big Show and Kane eventually retire – possibly in the next year. Despite the 60-day suspension for the incident with Vince McMahon, O’Neil is the type of positive role model the WWE has used in parenting public service announcements.
11 Quit: Darren Young
While one half of the Prime Time Players has found singles success, the same thing can’t be said for the other half in Darren Young. It would be nice to say he’s been able to take the positive publicity he and the WWE received for him coming out for his sexual orientation, but the momentum was lost and he hasn’t been able to flourish as a singles star in the WWE. At the moment, the current story line involving WWE legend Bob Backland as his mentor and coach could be the final opportunity Young has to be great in the WWE.
However, the vignettes that have aired over recent weeks have come across as corny and do little to build Young as a rising star in the WWE. Maybe the upcoming live events will allow the two to work out any kinks, but it’s not looking very good in terms of Young’s future success in the WWE.
10 Stay: Jack Swagger
It was mentioned in a previous article about how Jack Swagger blew an opportunity at becoming the World Heavyweight Champion in a feud with Alberto Del Rio at WrestleMania XXIX, and that his momentum has regressed from main event superstar to tag team wrestler and now someone who doesn’t get a lot of time on television except for losses. However, there is still a following for Swagger among the WWE Universe.
The crowd chants “We the People” with Swagger, showing that he’s definitely respected for being one of the more talented wrestlers in the ring. If any superstar could benefit from having Bob Backland in his corner, it would be Swagger – which would have worked to make the Real American great again to truly play on the Donald Trump presidential catchphrase. Swagger does need a voice since he hasn’t been the best on the microphone and could have a good chance to find opportunities after the brand split.
9 Quit: David Otunga
When going through the current WWE roster on the company’s website, seeing David Otunga still listed among active talents caused a bit of a double-take, even a triple-take. Unless WWE fans watch the live pre-show on the WWE Network, it can be pretty easy to forget that Otunga is still working for the company and it’s unclear why he still has a job. Him leaving the WWE has more to do with the talented commentators WWE has coming from NXT.
At the same time, Otunga has never really impressed fans with his in-ring work since the first season of the NXT “reality competition,” nor did he really stand-out for the right reasons with the Nexus faction that had a dominant debut back in 2010. Long gone are the days where having an impressive physique guarantees success in the WWE and Otunga is more likely to join the ranks of former superstars like Luther Reigns and Mike Knox.
8 Stay: Natalya
One of the best female wrestlers in WWE currently is someone who hasn’t truly been given consistent success in terms of winning the WWE Women’s Championship. Natalya seems to be like a mother hen for many of the young female talents in the WWE roster and that sort of motherly quality is needed as part of a veteran presence for younger superstars. Natalya knows what it takes to succeed and how hard it is to maintain that success, which makes her a perfect teacher for the next generation of WWE divas.
However, it would be understandable if she needed to take time away from WWE to spend time with her husband – who could very easily be dealing with a career-ending neck injury. If that is the case, one would hope Natalya can return to the WWE to win the Women’s Championship and to continue being that veteran younger divas can look up to in the locker room.
7 Quit: Eva Marie
After many WWE divas like Trish Stratus and Lita left the company, the women’s roster in WWE didn’t have the same depth that it did during the early years of the original brand split in the WWE. Even with the recent additions of Charlotte, Paige and Becky Lynch to the main WWE roster, there are still some bad ones like Eva Marie. The biggest contribution she has made to WWE is her appearances on the “reality show” Total Divas.
Despite receiving training from a number of different sources, her in-ring abilities look very sluggish at best and she is more likely suitable for being a valet. There’s no denying that she has supermodel looks that would warrant being on television. But the WWE ring is no place for someone like Eva Marie, who would have a better chance of success if she stuck to modeling and away from professional athletics.
6 Stay: Tyler Breeze
Not all of the recent call ups from the NXT development brand have had the most success in the WWE main roster – i.e. Kevin Owens. Tyler Breeze is someone who had a lot of promise with a unique heel character that some feel might not have been handled properly in the WWE main roster upon his debut. That doesn’t mean his career is doomed to mid-card mediocrity. There’s a good chance that his talents will begin to shine over the next few years and possibly towards a brighter future.
Breeze has spent plenty of time working in both Florida Championship Wrestling and NXT, so it’s hard to imagine the WWE wanting to cut someone loose after spending so much time working to find him an interesting character in the past few years. It might take some time, but one can have realistic expectations that Breeze can find success in the WWE.
5 Quit: Ryback
Before we get complaints, it should be noted that as of today, Ryback is still featured on WWE.com, and is fair game on this list. It wasn’t long ago when Ryback debuted in the WWE with a long winning streak that drew some easily understandable comparisons to Goldberg. Shortly after finding himself on the losing end of a WWE Championship feud with CM Punk, his character has seen some highs and some lows. He was unsuccessful in competing for the top title in the WWE, and it took until 2015 to win the Intercontinental Championship for a small run. His abilities have evolved and one can see he’s found some charisma as a villainous bully on television.
However, he hasn’t had consistent success in WWE and might be able to have better opportunities competing in other promotions overseas like New Japan Pro Wrestling – where the man once known as Albert was able to evolve as the Giant Bernard. A change of scenery could be good for the big guy, especially in a country where others like him have enjoyed big paychecks and great matches.
4 Stay: Zack Ryder
A few years ago, the departure from WWE for Zack Ryder would have been an expected outcome. However, the year 2016 has shown plenty of opportunities to come the way of Long Island Iced-Z. Once considered a jobber who struggled to find time on WWE television for several years, Ryder has won the Intercontinental Championship in a ladder match at WrestleMania earlier this year – granted, the championship reign ended in about 24 hours.
Then, move forward to Raw earlier this week where Ryder picked up the match-deciding pinfall victory over Sheamus in the 16-man tag team match between Team USA and international superstars. While there’s a good chance the WWE might not have long-term plans for the Ultimate Broski, having more matches on WWE television is an improvement. Hopefully, the WWE continues to build someone who has been dedicated to the company and has been one of the first social media superstars for WWE.
3 Quit: Big Show
The WWE is beginning to evolve away from what was once considered a land of giants with an influx of superstars who have various and diverse in-ring abilities. With someone like the Big Show having been around for more than 20 years, he’s becoming one of the last few walking dinosaurs left in professional wrestling. While having lost more than 50 pounds over recent years, the Big Show probably isn’t in as good physical condition as he once was as a world champion for both WWE and WCW.
The time is coming when Big Show decided to finally walk away from wrestling after having achieved many accomplishments for multiple promotions. So what would be the next move for the Big Show? Perhaps he should consider becoming a trainer for the company in Florida, especially when they begin scouting for the next seven-foot giant who has the potential to be the next generation’s dominant giant.
2 Stay: Goldust
Dustin Runnels, the son of Dusty Rhodes, has been able to perform in the world of professional wrestling for nearly 30 years and at the age of 47, he’s been able to compete in some of his best matches during his current run with the WWE. His time might be winding down, but it would be nice to see the man known best as Goldust have at least one more run with the Intercontinental Championship and possibly become a trainer at the WWE’s training center in Florida.
Goldust would be the type of veteran who teaches the future generation of superstars how to develop a character of their own and how to embrace challenges from the creative staff in the company. Here is someone who had to wrestle under various gimmicks and was able to succeed in a variety of ways who could be a positive influence as the WWE continues to add younger talents to NXT.
1 Quit: Dolph Ziggler
There comes a time when someone should look at their current career and how they’ve met their expectations. While Dolph Ziggler has come a long way from being one of the members of the Spirit Squad in 2005 and has won multiple championships in the past decade, Ziggler has not received the main event respect one would expect of his abilities. Unlike a number of WWE superstars many fans would like to see leave the company, the hopes for Ziggler’s departure are more meant for his own benefit.
Ziggler has recently begun branching out into other realms of entertainment that include stand-up comedy and he’s got the looks and charisma to excel in acting. If he does want to continue in professional wrestling, one would expect Ziggler to find opportunities similar to the ones that Cody Rhodes has recently received in the past month – much to the delight of many pro wrestling fans around the world.
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