New WWE stars are hired all the time and sometimes in order to make room for these stars, WWE often decide to release a number of talents that they no longer feel they need. WWE used to have an annual clear out where they would release a number of stars to help to free up money if the company had been having a bad year, or heading into Survivor Series season when ratings were not at their best.
These stars were able to make a name for themselves in WWE but after they lost their jobs and were then handed their p45's, they were then left to decide what they wanted to do with their lives moving forward. Many wrestlers choose the easy option of heading onto the Independent Circuit and making the most of the fact that they are still known by the WWE Universe and can still be booked by a number of other wrestling promotions all over the world.
Many other stars decide that they have had enough of the wrestling world and go in a completely different direction. So where have the most recently released WWE stars ended up? Have they continued their wrestling careers or have they decided to take their lives into completely different directions all together?
15 Damien Sandow
Damien Sandow did a fantastic job while he was managing The Miz and was seen as his stunt double, but it seems that when this storyline came to an end, they had nothing left for Damien Sandow and he was released from the company with a number of other stars back in May 2016 with WWE stating that budget cuts were the reason.
Sandow had a stint in TNA as Aron Rex where he is a former Impact Grand Champion, but he announced back in April that he had decided to walk away from TNA and take a break from wrestling as a whole so that he can concentrate on an acting career. Sandow reiterated on social media that he wasn't retiring from wrestling, he was just taking some time to pursue other creative projects.
Kaitlyn came to WWE as part of the all-female season of NXT, she won the competition and was given a contract to the main roster, where she is a former Divas Champion. That being said, Kaitlyn was part of the Women's Division before WWE had decided to "Give Divas A Chance" so there wasn't a lot for her to do after her feud with AJ Lee was over.
Kaitlyn made the decision to walk away from WWE, rather than spending time on the sidelines, and has since gone on to launch her own company. Kaitlyn uses her real name, Celeste Bonin and is the CEO and founder of Celestial Bodies (a clothing company). Kaitlyn split from her husband of three years, PJ Braun back in February and this caused a number of problems for her and her business, but it seems that she has finally recently been able to get back on track.
13 Austin Aries
It came as a shock to many members of the WWE Universe when WWE announced that they had come to terms with the release of Austin Aries, merely weeks after he fought Neville for the Cruiserweight Championship at WrestleMania.
Aries was a star in TNA and many fans were shocked that he had finally made his way to WWE and was positioned on their Cruiserweight show. Aries was said to have been unhappy that he wasn't given a payout for his match at WrestleMania because it didn't make the DVD and WWE officials apparently didn't see Aries ever being moved from 205 Live to the main roster. He was released from the company back in June and over the past few months he has returned to the Independent Circuit and has written a book called Food Fight, where he talks all about being an athlete and remaining vegan.
12 Santino Marella
Santino Marella was once picked out of the audience in Milan, Italy and was able to win the Intercontinental Championship on his first day, in his first match. Sadly, this didn't foreshadow his career with WWE, instead, he became a comedy act for a number of years, before he finally announced his retirement in July 2014.
Santino has made a number of WWE appearances since his retirement, but he has also kept himself busy outside of WWE. Back in September 2013 along with kung fu expert Steven J. Wong and publisher Terry Frendo, Santino opened a giant multi-use workout facility and gym called the Battle Arts Academy in Mississauga, Canada. Santino also married his bikini model girlfriend Anna Babij in November 2015. He recently appeared on an episode of WWE's "Where are they now" that airs on the WWE Network and is hosted by Renee Young. In November 2016, Santino joined the panel of Sportsnet 360 as an analyst.
11 Jack Swagger
Jack Swagger is a former amateur wrestler and a star who was able to climb the ranks in WWE and go on to become a World Champion. Despite this, Swagger was on something of a decline in his last few years with WWE so it didn't come as that much of a shock when WWE announced that Swagger had parted ways with the company back in March.
Since his release, Jack has decided to capitalize on the fan base that he created while working for WWE and joined the Independent Circuit. Swagger has worked many promotions in America and The UK over the past few months and could earn a good living from this for the next couple of months if he hasn't yet decided on a plan moving forward.
10 Rosa Mendes
Rosa Mendes is another female wrestler who was able to ply her trade in WWE after she auditioned for the Diva Search. Rosa was never used to her full potential, she was never given a decent shot at the women's Championship and it is thought that she only ever won one televised match on WWE TV.
Rosa gave birth to her daughter Jordan last February and on her first Birthday this year, she announced that she had made the decision to retire from the company after more than a decade. Over the past few months, it seems that Rosa has decided to cash in on the fact that she is still a highly athletic woman and a mother and founded the website tfmama.com, which stands for Totally Fit Mama. It seems that Rosa is enjoying sharing her secrets, and has gone back to using her real name Milena Roucka.
9 Simon Gotch
Simon Gotch made a name for himself alongside Aiden English for a number of years down in NXT as The Vaudevillains and is a former NXT Tag Team Champion. It is thought that Gotch wasn't the nicest person in the backstage area and this caused him a lot of problems, so much so that when he had a backstage argument at WrestleMania back in April, WWE decided that enough was enough.
Since his release from the company, Simon Gotch has now changed his name to Simon Grimm and is being booked on the Independent Circuits in both the UK and the United States. It seems that Gotch has managed to benefit from his short stint in both WWE and NXT to earn a small stretch in the spotlight outside the company.
8 Alex Riley
Alex Riley was never really given a chance in WWE, there are stories that John Cena took an instant dislike to the former NXT star and decided to do everything he could to bury him throughout his WWE career.
Alex later became a commentator on NXT, but it seems that this didn't last for long either and he was given a second chance on NXT when he entered a feud with Kevin Owens. Alex was shockingly released from his WWE contract in May 2016, along with a number of other WWE stars. Riley recently made a cameo appearance in Netflix series G.L.O.W and is making the move into acting right now, under his real name of Kevin Kiley Jr. He plays Mike Matthews in the upcoming 2018 Movie Glass Jaw.
Ryback was always a strange kind of WWE superstar, he tweeted a number of things that didn't make any sense and it seemed that WWE just allowed him to be in his own world outside of the company. Ryback was only ever able to lift the Intercontinental Championship in his lengthy WWE career, and it is said that an argument about WWE's payment hierarchy was the reason Ryback decided to walk away from the company last year.
Unsurprisingly Ryback has become known as The Big Guy and has continued to wrestle all over the world on the Independent Circuit. He has also launched a Podcast called "Conversation with The Big Guy" which has made the news on several occasions since Ryback has now become known for making some of the most random claims to fame on his show. Ryback also released a book called "Wake Up, It's Feeding Time", earlier this year.
#BlackGirlsRock #UnionRescueMission ____ Repost @mattdillon1983 (@get_repost) ・・・ Did you miss @arianeandrew on @littlethingsusa #Replay show? In honor of #WorkoutWednesday she stopped by to chat w @sarahpribis and shared some of her fave workouts (bonus points for doing it 👠 - love a girl who can multi-task between #NYFW and into fitness mode) 😂. Seen here chatting about her Philanthropy inc. @unionrescuemission & @blackgirlsrock. Click link in bio for the full episode. #WWE #TOTALDIVAS
Cameron was signed to WWE on their NXT roster and wasn't given a lot of training in the ring before she was thrust into the spotlight alongside Naomi as one of The Funkadactyls. Naomi and Cameron then went on to be two of the six women who were cast in the first season of Total Divas back in 2013, but when Cameron decided to align herself with Ryback after his comments about WWE's pay scale, WWE decided that she would be on the chopping block too.
Since Cameron was released back in May 2016, she has unsurprisingly stepped away from the wrestling scene and has instead tried to launch an acting career under her real name of Ariane Andrew. She also works as a model and a co-host of "Two on Where" that was being aired on Extra TV.
5 Brad Maddox
Brad Maddox made quite the impression in WWE when he made his debut as the dodgy referee who cost Ryback the chance to become WWE Champion, before later becoming Raw General Manager. He was later known as Joshua Kingsley before WWE released him for using an inappropriate word in one of his promos.
Brad headed to the Independent Circuit following his release and became known as Mad Braddox before earlier this year he was revealed to be the male addition to many of Paige's personal videos that were leaked online which made him the victim of a lot of abuse from the WWE Universe. Brad then removed all of his Social Media profiles and decided to avoid the spotlight for a while, this has seemingly gone on for a number of months, but it seems that Brad still continues to work on the Independent scene.
Hornswoggle was the tiny little Irish Leprechaun that seemingly helped Finlay before he was unveiled as the illegitimate son of Vince McMahon and then the anonymous General Manager of Monday Night Raw. Hornswoggle had quite the rollercoaster of a career with WWE until his release was announced along with a number of others in May 2016.
Hornswoggle decided to continue his wrestling career and had quite a successful stint on the Independent Circuit throughout 2016, but Hornswoggle then decided to join Impact Wrestling in 2017 where he is currently in a feud with Rockstar Spud. Hornswoggle was quite popular throughout his time in WWE, so it makes sense that he has decided to continue his career in the ring and cash in on the popularity that WWE gave to him. Hornswoggle has been known as Swoggle, since he made his Impact Wrestling debut.
3 Bull Dempsey
Bull Dempsey was quite popular with the Full Sail crowd during his time in NXT, when he was known for his Bull-Fit lifestyle. It seems that WWE just ran out of things to do with Bull Dempsey and decided to release him from his contract, despite the fact that he was still part of a number of matches in NXT tapings, which confused fans somewhat.
Following his release from NXT in 2016, Dempsey sold his "Bull-Fit" ring gear on eBay and decided to create an entirely different character ahead of his return to the Independent circuit. Towards the end of 2016, Dempsey also made a shock appearance at Ring of Honor and was given a shot at ROH World Champion and current NXT star Adam Cole in a losing effort. Dempsey seems to be making his new character work for him throughout the Independent promotions in America and The UK.
2 Sara Lee
Sara Lee will be remembered by the WWE Universe as the female winner of WWE's revamped version of WWE Tough Enough that streamed on the WWE Network back in 2015 and as a result of this win, she was given a year-long developmental contract with WWE. The company decided to release her when this contract came to an end in the summer of 2016 and she announced that she was pregnant, expecting a daughter.
Sara and fellow NXT superstar Wesley Blake welcomed their daughter Piper in May 2017, and Sara hasn't made a decision as to whether or not she is returning to the ring since she is currently adjusting to her new life with motherhood. Judging from their numerous Instagram posts, the couple seems to slowly be getting the hang of it.
1 King Barrett
Wade Barrett is a former Intercontinental Champion in WWE who has been known under a number of names, Barrett became known as King Barrett after he won the King of The Ring Tournament back in 2015. Barrett was also known as Bad News Barrett since Vince McMahon seemed to enjoy seeing him deliver bad news to the WWE roster.
Barrett was released along with a number of other stars back in May 2016, after it was reported that he decided to part ways with WWE early since he wanted to concentrate on his acting career. Barrett has stated that he will return to the ring in the future when the time is right. Wade stated in an interview that he will be seen much more by the WWE in the latter part of the year because he has been part of some interesting projects.