In recent years, we have witnessed a surge in success away from the WWE for the first time since the late 90s when WCW and ECW were still active. And while there was a time when TNA was an alternative, there are many more options out there these days for ex-WWE Superstars looking to make a living outside of the company. While many have been scooped up by major promotions such as NJPW, Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling, most wrestlers end up competing for local promotions especially if they came up between the 80s to mid 2000s.
They are less likely to be in demand than Superstars who were recently employed by the WWE, and while the pay certainly doesn't compare to that of the WWE - there are still some pros to working for smaller promotions. Not only do they have a flexible schedule all year long, but they are also able to pick and choose which dates to work without all the backstage headaches that come with working for the WWE.
And while such gigs are fine for a number of Superstars, many prefer the bigger limelight which is why they choose to move on from wrestling once they are finished with the WWE. Some of them have achieved remarkable success in their new careers that are vastly different than their previous profession, while others simply pursued their other passions such as acting. With today's list, we look at 10 former WWE stars who now main event gymnasiums and 10 who just gave up wrestling:
20 Main Event Gymnasiums: MVP
From 2006 to 2010, MVP was among the most popular mid-carders in the WWE with two title reigns as the United States Champion. He continued an impressive journey in the wrestling world even after his departure, but it's clear that his days as an active wrestler will be coming to an end soon. At 45 years old, MVP is no longer in hot demand on the independent circuit as his bookings have gotten fewer in the past two years. While he had stints with companies like NJPW, TNA and Lucha Underground, MVP is now mostly working for lower promotions that can barely fit a gymnasium.
19 Gave Up Wrestling: Enzo Amore
Upon his release from the WWE, Enzo Amore declared his wish to move on from the wrestling industry - stating that he would never return in the future regardless of what offers he may receive. He recently made headlines for disrupting Survivor Series while hiding in attendance, the very same day in which he released his debut album. As Enzo continues to transition into a full-time rapper, it appears that he is no longer interested in getting back into the squared circle. But of course that is subject to change if his career fails to pick up any steam in the upcoming years.
18 Main Event Gymnasiums: Chris Masters
Chris Masters's last stint with the WWE came in 2010 and while he had shown signs of progression, it was too little, too late as he had been relegated to a jobber by then. The company had great hopes for him upon his arrival on Raw back in 2005 as he took down a number of top Superstars. Fast forward to 2018, Masters' last major gig took place with Impact Wrestling playing the role of Eli Drake's associate. These days, he is mostly headlining smaller events against fellow ex-WWE stars. As he is only 35 years old, Masters may still find himself back with a major company in the future.
17 Gave Up Wrestling: Melina
In the past year, WWE brought back a number of former female Superstars which led many to believe that Melina could be on the way back. But it appears that the company still has no interest in working with Melina again as they had a sour ending to their relationship back in 2011. Melina didn't give up wrestling following her release and immediately joined the independent circuit to resume her career.
This past August, Melina unofficially announced her retirement from wrestling when asked about the possibility of another WWE run on Twitter - declaring that she has moved on from her previous career.
16 Main Event Gymnasiums: Ryback
Ryback was brought into the WWE with hopes that he could develop into a main eventer. He did initially get over with the fans, but a number of missed opportunities led to his decline in popularity as well as status on the card. That didn't go well with Ryback who was aiming to be a top tier Superstar for the company, which eventually led to his release in 2016. While he remains active on the wrestling scene, as he is always accepting bookings via Twitter promotions, Ryback hasn't worked for any top companies but at least he did get his wish to headline shows, even if they may be at a smaller scale.
15 Gave Up Wrestling: Snitsky
It has been exactly a decade since Snitsky was last seen on WWE television. Unlike many Superstars on this list, his release from the company happened as per his request. He continued his journey as a professional wrestling until the summer of 2018 when he declared his retirement from the industry, listing a loss of interest for the business. Snitsky has moved on to other ventures as evident by his social media activity, and is now selling a number of products on his official website such as beard oil and face cream. Based on his statement, it's unlikely that he will return to wrestling anytime soon.
14 Main Event Gymnasiums: Carlito
When Carlito won the WWE United States Championship on his very first night with the company, most thought that he would go on to have greater success. And while he did have a solid stint with the WWE, there is no doubt that he overachieved considering his overall talent. It's been eight years since Carlito has been an independent wrestler who makes appearances for various companies around the world, but he hasn't exactly had much of a buzz since his days in the WWE. And despite being constantly linked to the WWE, that has yet to happen as Carlito continues headlining smaller events.
13 Gave Up Wrestling: Muhammad Hassan
Given his sudden departure from the WWE, it's safe to say that Muhammad Hassan will most likely never appear on their television again. His character was already considered to be controversial in 2005, so it certainly wouldn't be well received in this era - not even for a one time appearance. Hassan had a 13 year hiatus from professional wrestling before he returned for a match in June of 2018, although he is now fully dedicated to new endeavors. If Hassan hadn't completely turned his back on wrestling following his WWE departure, then he may have been able to generate success elsewhere.
12 Main Event Gymnasiums: Scott Steiner
While most of his peers have retired by now, Scott Steiner is still going at 56 years old. Earlier this year, he had a brief stint with Impact Wrestling that led to several matches prior to his exit from the promotion. Since then, Steiner has continued wrestling for many smaller tier companies, while also attending meet and greet events. Given his hatred towards the WWE, he certainly won't be back in any capacity as Steiner hasn't gotten over his last run from 2002 to 2004. But if you happen to be a fan of Big Poppa Pump, you can still catch him competing at local events from time to time.
11 Gave Up Wrestling: Matt Morgan
When fans think of wasted Superstars, Matt Morgan always comes up in the mix as he was given a terrible gimmick that limited his ceiling with the company. Unlike other Superstars, he was never brought back on the screen with a different character, but at least Morgan did enjoy some successful years as a member of TNA.
Morgan has moved on from the wrestling industry, keeping himself busy with a number of tasks at hand. He's serving in office in Longwood, Florida, and continues to appear on various television shows in small cameos. According to his Instagram, Morgan is once again participating in bodybuilding competitions as well.
10 Main Event Gymnasiums: Hardcore Holly
By now, most fans would have assumed that Hardcore Holly has hung up the boots as he has been an active wrestler since 1987. He managed to remain with the WWE for 15 years prior to his release in 2009, and while he hasn't been booked by major companies since then, Holly is still as active as ever on the independent circuit. He still has the very same appearance that he carried throughout his WWE run, and gets constantly booked by lower tier promotions around the United States. Now that he is 55 years old, he may not be competing for too long so it will be interesting to see if he returns to the WWE in a backstage role.
9 Gave Up Wrestling: Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones only lasted a year with the WWE as the company quickly gave up on him. There was an ongoing trend with large Superstars getting the opportunity to breakthrough in the WWE, although most of them failed to make any impact including Jones. He would compete as an active wrestler for five more years before calling it a career. Since then, Jones has found success in a different industry as he has become an actor with appearances in movies such as Boar, Scorpion King: Book of Souls and Mad Max: Fury Road - so it's safe that he has done well after giving up on wrestling.
8 Main Event Gymnasiums: Raven
Having been gone from the WWE since 2003, it's been a long journey for Raven who has appeared for just about every wrestling promotion that you can name. His most successful stint has been with TNA in its early stages, where he won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, as well as King of the Mountain.
In recent years, his appearances have been very few compared to the early 2010s as Raven now considers himself to be semi-retired. But he still makes cameos from time to time, and has teamed up with Tommy Dreamer in tag team action several times in 2018.
7 Gave Up Wrestling: Eve Torres
With three WWE Divas Championship reigns, Eve Torres was among the most successful female Superstars of her era. She left the WWE on great terms, retaining the role of an ambassador, although she did opt to hang up the boots in order to pursue other ventures. And while most of her time is now dedicated to her husband and two children, Torres also serves as head Jiu Jitsu instructor.
Once she left the WWE, Torres indicated that she was finished as an active professional wrestler as her schedule no longer allowed her to be active as previous years with the company.
6 Main Event Gymnasiums: Marty Jannetty
Marty Jannetty has had to work for various companies since his last full-time run with the WWE that ended in 1996, so he has gotten accustomed to the independent scene. With strong connections in the industry, Jannetty is still headlining local events while performing some of his signature moves. And while he is set to turn 59 years old in two months, Jannetty has no intention of retiring as a professional wrestler anytime soon. Giving his many battles against the WWE, it is unlikely that he will be brought back in any capacity in the near future as the two sides have fallen out.
5 Gave Up Wrestling: Alex Riley
When Alex Riley debuted in the WWE, many believed that he had potential to achieve massive success in the company. Being an associate of The Miz, Riley was involved in some major storylines including a feud with John Cena. Upon his release in 2016, Riley had the opportunity to carry on and make a name for himself on the indies - but he chose to take a different path away from the squared circle. Once Alex Riley was cast in the Netflix series GLOW, he opted to dedicate his time to acting and landed another role in the film Glass Jaw.
4 Main Event Gymnasiums: Rikishi
Despite being inducted into the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame, Rikishi is still active on the independent circuit teaming up with his old partner Scotty 2 Hotty for various small promotions. It's been over a decade since Rikishi last competed as a full time wrestler, and while he has mad some moves away from the industry, it is still his priority to this day. Rikishi also runs a wrestling academy by the name of KnokX Pro Entertainment, and has mentored a number of younger wrestlers. These days, he only performs his signature moves whenever he does compete inside the ring.
3 Gave Up Wrestling: Vladimir Kozlov
Vladimir Kozlov's introduction to the WWE roster saw him getting a huge push almost immediately. With a clean victory over The Undertaker, it's surprising that he didn't go on to accomplish bigger things. And while the company did book him like a main eventer for some time, Kozlov simply never caught on with the fans and it wasn't long before he dropped off the ladder to become a jobber. Kozlov competed in some wrestling matches once he left the WWE, but he didn't stick around for too long afterwards as he began working as a stuntman for major film productions.
2 Main Event Gymnasiums: Rob Van Dam
He is undoubtedly the biggest name on this list, RVD is one of the most popular Superstars of his generation. And while some fans may believe that he is still a top draw, RVD is now headlining smaller events around the world - although that has been down to his personal preference. Despite offers from the WWE and other major promotions, RVD prefers to keep his schedule as open as possible since he is no longer interested in competing as a full-time performer. Given his unique style of wrestling, it's impressive that RVD is still able to pull off most of his signature moves today.
1 Gave Up Wrestling: Ted DiBiase Jr.
When Ted DiBiase Jr. joined forces with Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes to form Legacy, he was expected to become a top WWE star for years to come. He did show his potential early on with some solid all-around work, but never truly moved on to the next level as he was always stuck in the shuffle. By 2013, he requested his release from the WWE citing his wish to spend more time with his family as he had grown exhausted of the full-time schedule.
While he did go on to make a few appearances on the indies, DiBiase announced his retirement shortly afterwards. Since then, he has been running a non-profit organization that aims to assist underprivileged children.