The WWE roster is currently loaded with incredible talent from all over the world, but there aren’t enough spots for everyone. A “new era” has left numerous wrestlers on the outside looking for better career prospects. Wrestlers currently being underutilized can find something better on the free agent market depending on their skill level and commitment. Cody Rhodes becoming the ROH World Champion and a top New Japan star helped set the table for other wrestlers having an opportunity to make it if they bet on their own talent.
Other wrestlers have struggled to reach a top spot in WWE due to backstage politics of certain people not liking them. We'll take a look at eight specific wrestlers that could leave the WWE in shocking fashion. There are a few viable options elsewhere for the talent to jump ship. The independent circuit is great, but the promotions with contracts offer the best option to make a living outside of WWE. For each of the eight wrestlers, we will examine which is the best and most realistic possible destination if they make the change. Time will tell if they actually happen, but these are eight departures that could happen and eight possible landing destinations.
16 Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler was once considered to be among the best in-ring performers in WWE. Now, he's off television with very few fans even noticing. Ziggler has fallen downwards over the past few years with the majority of new stars all passing him in the pecking order. One huge negative for Ziggler is that he refuses to reinvent himself.
A change could be the thing that does just that with a new promotion and bigger opportunity. Ziggler has been rumored to be on WWE’s bad side for years now. The lack of a role currently shows what they think of him. There have been a few reports about Dolph considering leaving for New Japan or another major promotion that could offer him a solid contract that would allow him to continue his comedy career on the side in a bigger way.
15 Ziggler to Lucha Underground
Lucha Underground doesn’t seem like the obvious fit for Dolph Ziggler, but they clearly need some more big names. The career of Ziggler in WWE is very much similar to John Morrison’s tenure. Both men always appeared on the verge to becoming legitimate main eventers, but WWE always stopped them before they could reach the top. Morrison left WWE and has become arguably the face of Lucha Underground.
Ziggler is a similar story and would be what they're looking for in their American talents joining the Lucha show. The acting aspirations of Dolph would also be satisfied here with experience in the acting world given how the shows are structured compared to other promotions. Lucha Underground only takes a few months at a time allowing him to tour as a comedian if that's still his goal outside of the ring.
14 Sasha Banks
The popularity of Sasha Banks is undeniable. Aside from the Bella Twins, all metrics show she has sold the most WWE merchandise of the women’s wrestlers in recent history. Fans at live events love Banks and they show it through every mean. Still, it seems like WWE is very hesitant about pushing her as the face of Raw’s division. Charlotte Flair, Alexa Bliss and Bayley have been positioned above her in the pecking order.
Banks recently posted a cryptic message on her Tumblr page implying she was getting ready to leave WWE at some point within the next two years. During various interviews, Sasha has made it clear that she plans to set up a career outside of wrestling knowing it won’t last forever. Leaving WWE would allow her to star the next chapter while still doing what she loves for a lot of money in another promotion.
13 Sasha to ROH
Ring of Honor is not known for having a credible Women’s Division. The performers are talented in the Women of Honor, but they don’t get much time on television. Most of their matches are before the shows or taped for social media. A huge name like Sasha Banks coming to ROH would change the game and give them the momentum and confidence to go through with it.
A huge problem for women leaving WWE is the lack of options to continue wrestling on television. Banks would get to create change in the industry while wrestling the way she wants to with more creative freedom on the side for her other projects. WWE better start treating The Boss like a bigger deal or she could be saying farewell sooner than later.
The talent of Cesaro has always been underrated by WWE due to Vince McMahon not believing in his upside. Cesaro seems to be consistently on the verge of breaking out every year but it always culminates to very little. The current role as one half of the Raw Tag Team Championship with Sheamus has given him something relevant to do.
However, the tag team run just won’t last in the long run and Cesaro will be back to square one. There have been rumors of Cesaro wanting to leave for many years now. The freedom of wrestling the style he wants in a bigger role could tempt him to head out when his contract expires. Cesaro leaving could be another Cody Rhodes situation of leading to huge money in other promotions.
11 Cesaro to NJPW
A couple of interviews through the recent years have revealed that Cesaro is a huge fan of New Japan. The incredible momentum of NJPW right now has seen them try to expand in North America. Familiar names like Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes, the Young Bucks and numerous other foreign talents are helping New Japan become a bigger deal to fans in the United States.
Cesaro joining NJPW is a no-brainer for both sides if he does in fact depart from WWE. We would likely see Cesaro work for ROH, PWG and other independent promotions, but there’s no doubt New Japan would be his new home. It would be a shame if his WWE career ended before he ever received a major singles push. Still, Cesaro showing his full potential is the best case in any scenario.
10 Enzo Amore
The drama regarding Enzo Amore’s status in the WWE locker room is the biggest detriment to his career. Enzo reportedly brags about how much money he makes off the wrestling business despite showing no respect for it. The other wrestlers to spend time with him in the locker room are livid at his antics. Roman Reigns throwing him off a bus showed just how badly things would get for Amore.
Recent reports have indicated that WWE is considering moving Enzo to 205 Live as a demotion or even sending him back to NXT. Neither of things are a good sign for his future in the company. Enzo certainly is popular, but he isn’t a big enough star to warrant the drama. WWE releasing him in the near future isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
9 Enzo to GFW
All of the positives to Enzo Amore as a performer go back to his personality. The annoying loudmouth of Enzo makes the other wrestlers hate him but the fans love it. Enzo has among the loudest ovations at every show and sells a lot of merchandise. One big problem for him aside from his attitude is the lack of in-ring skills.
Enzo can’t last in promotions like Ring of Honor, New Japan or Lucha Underground with his below average work rate. The only company that he could realistically sign and find success with is Global Force Wrestling. Despite having little to no momentum, GFW is the biggest promotion that could use someone like Amore. Enzo could actually become one of their top stars given the landscape of the roster.
Kalisto has been removed from television storylines for months now on the Raw brand. It seems obvious that he would be a tremendous fit in the Cruiserweight Division, but he has yet to appear in it. WWE once viewed Kalisto as the next big luchador as a replacement for Rey Mysterio. The sad part is that Kalisto is extremely talented and has the potential to be as great as Rey.
A few small pushes ended abruptly with Kalisto having nothing to do. The most memorable moment of his on WWE television over the past year is getting throw into a dumpster by Braun Strowman. WWE and Kalisto may split at some point quite soon if they don’t find something for him. Someone that talented in his prime has to make a name before his window closes.
7 Kalisto to Lucha Underground
The most obvious option for Kalisto after WWE is Lucha Underground. Kalisto’s high flying style and luchador background is what Lucha Underground wants for their performers. AAA wanted to get Kalisto for their brand shortly before WWE signed him away. Kalisto could easily become the new face of lucha by signing with both Lucha Underground and Mexico’s AAA.
There is a lot of untapped potential in Kalisto and he has been on television enough to have recognition. It's the perfect situation for a company like Lucha Underground. Kalisto would be better off right now. WWE’s best bet is making him a top member of the Cruiserweight Division or they could risk losing him. Considering he’s still young, Kalisto may be the biggest Lucha Underground signing for the long term.
6 Luke Harper
Another underrated asset on the WWE roster is Luke Harper. Many would argue he was the most talented member of the Wyatt Family. Following the most recent split at the beginning of 2017, Harper appeared bound for a big singles push. There was actually enough momentum for fans to believe he may be added to the Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt WWE Championship match at WrestleMania 33.
Harper did not get that spot and WWE has done absolutely nothing with him since then. This is not a good sign for his future in WWE. Harper could also want to leave for a better opportunity. Either side could lead to Harper departing. The only way to see him instantly get his career back on the upswing would be reforming The Wyatt Family, but WWE isn’t looking to do that right now.
5 Harper to ROH
Ring of Honor once employed Luke Harper many years ago under his independent wrestling name of Brodie Lee. Harper joined Seth Rollins, Jimmy Jacobs and numerous other wrestlers in the successful Age of the Fall faction. Unfortunately, his role was not as important and he served in the background as a glorified enforcer.
Given the changes and ROH looking for new top stars today, the situation would be completely different. Harper would instantly be a top player for Ring of Honor as WWE tends to sign away most of their top stars. This would be the opposite scenario of a former WWE star with great talent and name value helping out the promotion looking to grow. Harper leaving WWE is a gift for any promotion. ROH has the best chance to benefit from it.
The complaints of Emma on social media have seen her rant against WWE refusing to use her in a meaningful way. Following her return from injury, Emma has done nothing of note in storylines aside from having random matches. Emma definitely has the talent level and potential to a big player for the Women’s Division. Unfortunately, that isn’t translating to anything better coming her way.
Emma has consistently indicated she is unhappy with her status in WWE leading to the #GiveEmmaAChance movement. Since this took off, WWE has placed her on television in losing roles. The future appears to be Emma getting portrayed as a whiner that loses every week. This isn’t much better than not being used at all. Emma’s future with WWE is clearly up in the air.
3 Emma to GFW
One of the few positives for Global Force Wrestling is they do try to have a credible Women’s Division. Outside of WWE, they're the only television promotion that has a strong Women’s Division and provides a home for the women’s wrestlers. Emma would be a tremendous fit if they gave her the chance to truly be a major part of the division.
Sienna, Rosemary, Lauren Van Ness and the legendary Gail Kim are just a handful of the names that Emma would have great matches with. WWE souring on Emma and Emma clearly being upset at how her talent is being wasted could be GFW’s gain. The struggling promotion needs as many new stars as possible for their re-branding efforts over the next year or so. Emma definitely is someone that should be on their radar.
2 Daniel Bryan
The biggest possible name that can leave WWE in the near future is Daniel Bryan. Despite being “retired” for over a year now and being on the injured list for over two years, Bryan is still among the most popular stars in the company. Aside from John Cena and sometimes A.J. Styles, Bryan receives the biggest ovation on SmackDown when coming to the ring. The ratings even spiked when he returned following the birth of his child.
WWE however has no interest in bringing him back to the ring due to the physical risks and their doctors believing he is not fit to compete. Other doctors have given Bryan the opposite reaction claiming he’s in no more danger than the average wrestler. Bryan has made it clear he’s itching to wrestle again and he’s one guy that doesn’t care about the money. That doesn’t bode well for WWE.
1 Bryan to NJPW
The social media feed of Daniel Bryan shows he clearly still loves watching wrestling outside of WWE. Various tweets have seen him reference his fandom of New Japan. Bryan is a huge fan of the work of Kenny Omega, the Young Bucks, Zack Sabre Jr. and numerous others. Another comment saw him reference the desire of wrestling friend Cody Rhodes for the ROH World Championship.
NJPW, ROH and Mexico’s CMLL all have a working relationship that would land Bryan working for them along with any independent promotions that interests him. The big fish is clearly New Japan and Bryan could actually make a huge impact. Rumors have NJPW currently in the running as trying to sign CM Punk. Bryan is the next biggest name. The potential of getting both major stars could make them slight competition for WWE.