The wheel is always turning at World Wrestling Entertainment and as such, superstars will continue to come and go for many years to come. Some move on to pastures new meanwhile others hang up pro wrestling altogether, but either way, there’s no denying that we’re in for some big changes as we move into 2018.
Year in and year out it’s the same old story with guys and girls wanting to try something different, and given the current state of the company combined with the blossoming independent scene, things probably aren’t going to be any different in the next 11-12 months.
We obviously understand that most of these entries are probably going to wind up staying with WWE, but there are certainly valid reasons behind our thinking for all 15 individuals. So as we make our way through this list, remember to come back here on January 1st 2019, because the landscape of WWE could look a lot different.
15 Renee Young
Renee Young has been an ever-present member of the WWE roster for a few years now, cementing herself as one of the best reporters that the company has had in the last few decades. She’s able to improvise, she’s able to run a show successfully, and she clearly has a passion for the business which is something that you just can’t manufacture.
Alas, we’ve just got this feeling that she’s starting to wind down her time in WWE. After all, this probably isn’t her end goal and never was, and in addition to that, her husband Dean Ambrose is probably going to be spending quite a bit of time on the shelf. She’d be able to go home and enjoy being with Dean for a few months before he heads back on the road, and on top of that, she wouldn’t have to travel quite as much.
14 Big Cass
From being accused of supporting Donald Trump to his injury to breaking up with Carmella, it’s been something of a rollercoaster six months for Big Cass. The former NXT stand-out has often been labelled "the future" of the business, with his appearance in the Universal Championship fatal-four-way match back in 2016 being a big part of that.
Unfortunately, his heel turn followed by his injury led to many fans forgetting about him, and when he returns, you have to question just how much people are going to care. The "big guy" market is quite full right now in WWE and while the independent scene might not necessarily suit him, we can see Big Cass taking matters into his own hands in the next few months.
The Celtic Warrior is one of the most underrated superstars in WWE history – and yes, we mean that. Not only is the Irishman a multi-time world champion, but he’s also been one of the most consistent performers in the company over the last few years. From his character work to his actual matches, you’ll find a hard time faulting this guy.
Much like Goldust, Sheamus feels like someone who is going to be around forever, but what most people don’t know is that he’s less than two weeks away from his 40th birthday. When you take that into consideration alongside his many injury problems, it makes sense for Sheamus to walk away on his own terms before he’s actively forced out of the business.
The truth hurts, fella.
Luke Harper, now known as just Harper, seemed as if he was on the verge of breaking into the main event picture towards the start of 2017. He was putting on great singles matches on a weekly basis, had transitioned perfectly into being a singles star, and he was also rumoured to be entering the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania 33.
Then, for whatever reason, it all went south pretty quick. The former Wyatt Family member fell down the card and while he’s doing a good job of rebuilding himself as one half of The Bludgeon Brothers, he’s hinted at feeling frustrated with some of his storylines in the past.
Perhaps this is all leading to Harper heading back out onto the independent scene towards the back end of 2018.
Goldust is one of those veterans that you always expect to hang around for years and years to come, but as he approaches his 50s, it’s time to accept the fact that all good things must come to an end. While Goldy may have given himself a new lease of life in recent times, 2018 will probably be the last year that we see him on a regular basis.
It’s not like we’re excited about the prospect of him not being around anymore, but at the same time, there are so many guys who could be put in the position that he’s in right now. Plus, and this is an important point, his burial of the cruiserweights over on 205 Live simply isn’t good for anyone.
We've had a lot of fun over the years with Dustin, but it’s time to write the final chapter in his story.
10 Hideo Itami
You could argue that if Hideo Itami didn’t get injured following his great start to life down in NXT, he’d be a household name by now. Alas, he did get injured, and the man formerly known as KENTA has been left to rot as he slums it out in the cruiserweight division.
Obviously, that’s quite a harsh thing to say about the purple brand, but let’s face it, we were all hoping that Hideo would one day be promoted to the main roster so that we could see the GTS in living colour once again. Unfortunately, that doesn’t look likely at this stage, and with his WrestleMania 31 cameo now being just a distant memory, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Hideo head back to Japan for the final few years of his in-ring career.
9 Alicia Fox
It’s odd to sit here and call Alicia Fox a "veteran," but in actuality, that’s exactly what she is. Fox has been a part of the WWE family for over a decade and that kind of commitment isn’t something that comes around every day, especially when you consider some of the downright ridiculous storylines that have been thrown her way.
Fox deserves more than being just someone who makes up the numbers in the Raw women’s division, and while we can’t imagine her wrestling if she does end up leaving, she’ll almost certainly find success no matter what she does.
So if you’re a fan of Alicia and her frighteningly realistic scissors kick, then you might want to start preparing yourself for life without her.
It’s difficult to look at Maryse and not be blown away, which is one of the many reasons why we’ll never disrespect someone like The Miz for as long as we live. The blonde bombshell has been on fire since returning to the WWE on the Raw after WrestleMania 32, with many fans believing that she was the catalyst behind The Awesome One’s return to relevancy as Intercontinental Champion.
These days, however, she’s on the sidelines as she prepares to give birth to her first child. While that doesn’t necessarily confirm that she’ll never come back, we can’t imagine that she’d want to spend too much time away from her newborn child in the first few months of its life.
We hope that this doesn’t happen, but at the same time, all we want is for this wonderful couple to be happy.
7 Paul Heyman
Ladies and gentlemen, his name is Paul Heyman, and not only is he is the advocate for the Universal Champion Brock Lesnar – but he’s also one of the greatest talkers of all time.
Heyman has been a wizard on the mic since popping back up alongside Lesnar in 2012, and really, we shouldn’t find it all too surprising. The guy always had the charisma necessary to make some noise as a manager, and now, we can safely say that he’s one of the best to ever do it.
Unfortunately, we all know that Brock’s contract is coming to an end at WrestleMania 34, and while some fans may be expecting Paul to stick around, it’d be fitting to see him ride off into the sunset with The Beast Incarnate by his side.
6 Baron Corbin
We don’t care what anyone says because we’re about to lay down some truth for all of you reading this: Baron Corbin is money. Fact.
From his unique look to his sensational finisher, the former NFL player is someone who has been grossly mistreated since being promoted to the main roster. Yes, he won the US title and yes, he’s a former Money in the Bank contract holder, but that doesn’t make up for all of the bizarre booking decisions that he’s been given over the last few years.
Corbin deserves better than that and we think that even WWE themselves know that, despite not seeming all too interested in reigniting his push to the top of the card. He may be brash and he may be unconventional, but you’re all still going to miss him once he’s gone.
Lana falls into the upper 1% when it comes to the most visually appealing performers in WWE history, but unfortunately, that’s not what this game is about. While she’s clearly been trying extremely hard to get better with each and every passing day, the end result hasn’t wound up being all that successful on WWE television.
For some reason, the company insists upon not putting her back with her husband Rusev, despite the fact that both superstars were at their best when they were together in an on-screen capacity. Lana is extremely charismatic when she wants to be, and if WWE keeps putting shackles on her, then she’ll likely decide to pursue being a model and actress instead.
Most people wouldn’t be opposed to that, but still.
4 Daniel Bryan
The WWE Universe still strongly believes that Daniel Bryan is going to return to active in-ring competition, which is a nice dream for them to have. Unfortunately, in reality, it seems much more likely that the SmackDown Live General Manager is going to weigh up his options before finally leaving to wrestle on the independent scene once again.
At this point, Bryan seems destined to go back to ROH, with his return bout likely coming at Cody Rhodes’ All In event. Some fans wouldn’t be surprised by this but it would certainly be odd to see Bryan at a non-WWE event after all these years, and to be honest, we’re still enjoying seeing him in an authority role on television.
No, we aren’t being sarcastic.
3 Curt Hawkins
This probably wouldn’t come as a "surprise" to many given his position in the company, but for us, it would genuinely be a bit of a shock if Curt Hawkins decided to leave the company. After all, he’s one of the most consistent members of the main roster, regardless of the fact that he hasn’t won a match in what feels like forever.
Hawkins is the ultimate jobber to the stars (or to anyone, for that matter) and WWE will continue to use his losing streak as a storyline focus for many months to come, and that’s the exact reason why we believe he’s going to leave. Hawkins is better than where he currently is, and the independent scene is full of possibilities for someone like him right now.
Face the facts, guys.
2 Booker T
Booker T isn’t exactly the most capable of commentators, and that’s putting it mildly. The former five-time (repeat 5x) WCW Champion hasn’t done his legacy much good for hanging around for so long, and yet despite that, we’re still able to recognise him as a legend. Why? Because his body of work in this business truly does speak for itself.
Unfortunately, it seems as if Booker has his plate full these days, which likely means that he’ll be taking a step back from being a full-time member of commentary sometime soon. While that isn’t exactly a tragedy it is nice to see him still hanging around, and a small part of us is hoping for one more surprise Rumble appearance one day.
Yes, we can dig it.
1 Heath Slater
When Heath Slater bounced back from obscurity and won the SD Live Tag Team Championships alongside Rhyno back in 2016, it was nothing short of miraculous. Heath had somehow managed to orchestrate this storyline for himself that took him all the way to the top of the tag division, and now, he’s right back down the bottom of the pile again.
Slater has seen both of his former 3MB teammates leave and return to win a world title, and while we can’t exactly see that happening with Heath, it’s got to be something that he’s thought about.
It may not be the biggest surprise of the decade or anything, but you’ve got to remember that the guy has been around for eight years now and that’s no joke.