Once wrestlers leave the WWE, it can be a tough task to keep up with their latest whereabouts. Most of them happen to fade away from the limelight unless they sign with another top promotion. Despite being active on the independent circuit, some fans may be unaware that they are still competing to this day. On the other hand, you have wrestlers who leave the industry behind in a quiet manner without making a big ordeal out of it. And while some fans may have previously believed that these wrestlers are still active these days, they have decided against resuming their wrestling career.
Unless it takes place in the WWE, most returns that occur for a smaller promotion will likely go unnoticed. With so many wrestlers out there, it is quite unrealistic to expect fans to keep up with their updates at all times. Most of the wrestlers listed today had been released by the WWE at some point, which forced them to take a different path afterwards. Some chose to test the independent circuit by accepting bookings from local promoters, but there are some wrestlers who aren't quite fond of that route - deciding to simply start a new chapter in their life.
For one reason or another, these Superstars didn't receive much hype upon their return or retirement from the ring. They may have been working top arenas during their time with the WWE, but such was no longer the case in the aftermath. Here are 10 former WWE stars who quietly returned to the ring and 10 who quietly retired:
20 Quietly Returned: Rikishi
In the past three years, Rikishi has been semi-retired with his appearances being very few. He has taken on a lighter schedule since his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015, although that changed in the past six months. Rikishi has been quietly accepting more bookings in recent times, and featured for a number of independent promotions in tag team action. While he isn't capable of going for too long in a match these days, Rikishi still performs his signature moves to ignite the crowd. Most of his appearances have taken place for Old School Championship Wrestling in case you happen to be interested in watching today's Rikishi in action.
19 Quietly Retired: Santino Marella
Following his WWE departure due to an injury, Santino Marella announced his intention to retire from the industry. He would go on to have one more match that went unnoticed since it happened with a small promotion. Unlike many Superstars who went back against their word, Marella remains retired as of today with no plans to return to in-ring action. He did make a number of appearances for Impact Wrestling in the past two years, but none of them saw him featured in a wrestling role. Due to the injury sustained years ago, Marella is unlikely to bring the boots out of retirement.
18 Quietly Returned: Rosa Mendes
In 2017, Rosa Mendes announced her retirement from professional wrestling following her WWE exit. But that didn't last too long as she changed her mind the next year, revealing that she had returned to training in order to resume her career. In May of 2018, Mendes had her first official match in two years where she picked up a win in a tag team match at MCW Wrestling. She has gone on to have a number of matches since then, although her return has been under the radar. Most fans may have already forgotten about Mendes given her lack of impact in the WWE.
17 Quietly Retired: Candice Michelle
When Candice Michelle left the WWE in 2009, she disappeared from the spotlight and seemingly put her wrestling days behind her. And while she had been unofficially retired at the time, Michelle didn't make it official until 2017 when she had her last match against Victoria at the House of Hardcore. Most fans likely believe that Michelle has remained active on the independent circuit like many of her peers from the same era, but she had no interest in wrestling outside of the WWE. Now that she has quietly retired from the industry, it appears that Michelle spends most of her time taking care of her family.
16 Quietly Returned: Tajiri
In 2017, Tajiri had a brief run with the WWE that lasted just a few months before he left the company. When the WWE revealed they had no intentions of using him going forward, Tajiri decided to leave. Since then, he has kept a low profile for the most part barring a few appearances for AJPW. As of the past six months, Tajiri has become much more active once again as he has been booked by various promotions in Japan. Now that he is 48 years old, it's likely that Tajiri will be calling it a career in the near future.
15 Quietly Retired: Gail Kim
Considering that she is one of the better female stars of the 2000s, Gail Kim certainly deserved a better sendoff from professional wrestling, but she left the industry behind without creating too much buzz. Her final match was booked by Southside Wrestling early in 2018, and Kim followed it up by officially announcing her intentions to step away from the squared circle. Since then, she has agreed to a backstage role with Impact Wrestling where she remains as of today. Kim has shown no interest in working with the WWE in any capacity due to ongoing tension from the past.
14 Quietly Returned: Big Cass
In June of 2018, Big Cass was surprisingly released from the WWE roster. He was on receiving end of a singles push at the time and was involved in a feud with the returning Daniel Bryan, so fans didn't expect to see him gone from the company. He went on to take the summer off before returning to in-ring action late in September as he competed against James Storm for Big Time Wrestling. Unfortunately for Cass, he has failed to gain hype away from the WWE as his return hasn't been covered much due to the promotions that he has been working for.
13 Quietly Retired: Snitsky
Snitsky was among the many former WWE Superstars who were expected to have greater success in the industry, although his career fell short of expectations. Following a four-year run with the company, Snitsky was released in 2008 although that didn't stop him from continuing his journey on the independent circuit, as well as a brief stint for TNA. During the summer of 2018, Snitsky announced that he was ready to move on from the industry since he no longer had the same passion for it as it has changed too much in recent years. Snitsky went on to work a few more matches at smaller promotions before hanging up the boots.
12 Quietly Returned: Darren Young
Darren Young wasn't short of opportunities during his WWE stint as he had been given various chances to succeed. He was never able to truly establish himself on the roster, so it was no surprise that he was released in October of 2017. Since then, Young hasn't exactly been in the headlines so it's safe to assume that the majority of fans are unaware that he resumed his wrestling career in March of 2018. Although his post-WWE run hasn't been as impressive as Young would like, he continues to accept bookings in hopes of extending his career for a few more years.
11 Quietly Retired: Summer Rae
There are wrestlers who go on to have an impressive run following their WWE departure. Others use it as an opportunity to revamp their character and in-ring ability to make a stronger return. Then you have former Superstars like Summer Rae who opt to give up on wrestling as a profession and move on to other ventures. Following her release in 2017, Rae did return to action for one more match the next year before she unofficially announced her retirement. It appears that Rae is only interested in working for a major company like the WWE, and has no interest in making a living as an independent worker.
10 Quietly Returned: Kevin Nash
At 59 years old, most fans would assume that Kevin Nash has retired by now. While he had never made an official announcement, he hadn't been wrestling for the past few years. He did accept bookings from time to time for non-wrestling roles, but 2018 saw him return strongly by becoming Big Time Wrestling's World Heavyweight Champion. Of course Nash's comeback wasn't covered by many media platforms since he is working for a local promotion, but it's still impressive that he added yet another title to his impressive wrestling resume. And of course it was only right that he won the match with a Jackknife.
9 Quietly Retired: Melina
Melina didn't allow her WWE release in 2011 to affect her wrestling career, as she got back up by going on an impressive run on the indies. For the next five years, she would compete for different companies around the world before she took a two year hiatus from competing. In 2018, Melina returned for one more match at A Matter Of Pride Wrestling, although her comeback was short lived since she announced her retirement via social media. Melina claims that her time has come and gone, adding that she could still compete in the ring if she wanted to carry on, but has chosen to step away.
8 Quietly Returned To The Ring: Ezekiel Jackson
Ezekiel Jackson has been away from the spotlight to say the least. Following his WWE departure in 2014, he did work for TNA and Lucha Underground, but neither stint was exactly memorable. By the end of 2015, Jackson announced his wish to retire from competing, as he transitioned into a new role as a trainer. He is still working as a trainer as of today according to his Twitter account, although he did make a quiet return to the ring in 2018. It may have been a one time appearance since Jackson no longer appears to be interested in being involved in the action.
7 Quietly Retired: Matt Morgan
In the past few years, Matt Morgan has transitioned between working for Impact Wrestling and various independent promotions. But following his latest departure from Impact in 2017, Morgan indicated his interest in pursuing a different career - and he now serves the city Longwood, Florida. With his current position in the city, Morgan has been focusing his efforts on Longwood rather than his wrestling endeavors. It appears that he may be done with the industry for the time being as he hasn't made any appearances in recent times. Given his current position, it is no surprise that Morgan is no longer interested in getting inside the ring.
6 Quietly Returned: Mr. Kennedy
When Mr. Kennedy left TNA in 2016, there were indications that he may be retiring in the near future although he continued accepting bookings from different promotions. As time went by, his appearances got very rare as his wrestling school had taken most of his time. After having been away from the ring for many months, Kennedy made his return to the ring in 2018 as he competed for Heavy On Wrestling. But that happened to be one of his few appearances throughout the year, so it's safe to say that Kennedy is no longer focused on being an active wrestler.
5 Quietly Retired: Damien Sandow
Damien Sandow's release from the WWE came across as a disappointment to fans who hoped that he would still reach his potential with the company. He embarked on a run through the independent circuit for the next year before joining Impact Wrestling, where he failed to flourish under his new character. By April 2017, Sandow had lost interest in continuing his wrestling career, revealing that he would shift his focus towards an acting career. Now that he has booked a role for the TV show Midnight, Texas - it's safe to say that Sandow has succeeded in his quest to transition into an actor.
4 Quietly Returned: Wade Barrett
Since 2016, Wade Barrett has mostly kept a low profile away from the WWE. He previously stated that he had been unhappy during his final year with the company, which ultimately convinced him to quit the industry as soon as possible. Barrett continues aspiring to be an actor in the near future, although he has accepted non-wrestling roles for Defiant Wrestling and then later on World of Sport. More recently, Barrett inked a deal with Lucha Underground that will see him return to in-ring action next season. But his return hasn't received plenty of coverage, so it has gone down rather quietly.
3 Quietly Retired: Alex Riley
Riley appeared to have a bright future in the WWE when he formed an alliance with The Miz. But he fell through the card at a fast pace, and was eventually released by the company in 2016. Riley opted against accepting bookings from independent promotions since he had different aspirations away from the industry. Riley was keen on making it as a professional actor, so he decided to dedicate most of his time towards his new profession. He recently appeared in the 2017 film Glass Jaw, and has many other projects currently in the working - so it will be interesting to see how that plays out for Riley.
2 Quietly Returned: Muhammad Hassan
Just as quickly he rose through the ranks, Muhammad Hassan also fell out of the equation overnight. Following his WWE release in the summer of 2005, Hassan was offered the chance to return on-screen under a new gimmick. But he was ready to move on from the industry as Hassan didn't exactly enjoy his run with the company. He preferred to remain out of the limelight, as he transitioned into a new journey as a professor. Fast forward to 2018 when Hassan made a surprising return to the squared circle, which happened to be his very first match in 13 years.
1 Quietly Retired: Enzo Amore
When the WWE announced the release of Enzo Amore from the roster, fans wondered whether he would carry on as a professional wrestler. Unless you happened to follow Enzo in the aftermath of his exit, then you may not know that he had announced his retirement from the industry. Enzo had no interest in working for any other company, stating that he had also grown exhausted by the industry - which is why he opted to go for a rap career instead. It will be interesting to see if Enzo sticks with his decision a few years from now if he doesn't make it as a rapper.