The WWE recently had their second quarter financials released to the stockholders and the company wasn’t able to hit goals that they were aiming for. Although the global entertainment company actually raised their profits by 8% since March, the WWE Network lost subscribers causing an alarm to go off for many shareholders. Vince McMahon has responded by beginning to cut back on non-essential expenses in the company. In a cost savings effort, the WWE officially retired the use of pyrotechnics during wrestler entrances and cut multiple shows on the WWE Network including the beloved Taking Smack. This can’t come as a surprise to eagle eyed fans of wrestling, as the company has slowly been transitioning away from spending extra on when they don’t have to - this is why we no longer have custom PPV stages.
Another way that the WWE is able to cash in on hard savings is by not renewing the contracts of their on-screen performers. Fans see this every year as a laundry list of wrestlers are “future endeavored” following the WrestleMania season annually. Even after the mass exodus of talent, the WWE still sprinkles in releases throughout the year as a cost cutting measure. Today we will attempt to predict the next 15 WWE stars who will get that dreaded phone call from Stamford. Keep in mind that for the purpose of this list, a wrestler who asks for their contract to end will still be eligible as a release from the company.
Let us know who you think won’t make it another year in the comments section.
15 Enzo Amore
For the past two years, Enzo has been one of the most charismatic characters on the WWE main roster. Before his split from tag team partner Big Cass, the duo did a great job in establishing both men as threats in the ring and on the mic. As of late, however, Enzo has been getting beat left and right on television and according to the dirt sheets, has severe heat backstage; we are talking Miz mid-2000s level heat here. Enzo allegedly is getting grief from his coworkers for bragging about his paychecks, but more importantly for trashing the wrestling business during an overheard phone call.
The WWE seems to be in a catch 22 with the “Bonafide G”, as he isn’t allowed to change with the rest of the locker room, but is also one of the top draws of the company in television ratings. Though there are rumors that Enzo will be heading back to NXT, it’s completely plausible that the WWE just cuts ties with him, as he is pretty cancerous to the rest of the wrestlers.
14 Titus O’Neil
Titus O'Neil is a great athlete and an even better person but for some reason, he just can’t quite make things click in the WWE. All things considered his current run as the head of “Titus Worldwide” has been pretty entertaining, but it’s too soon to tell whether or not the WWE can keep up his role as a heater for smaller guys. Many fans have given up on the former WWE Tag Team Champion, especially after his Botchamania worthy botches on the mic during the end of last year - you know, the one where he flubbed literally every sentence. In any case, O’Neil is 40 years old and the WWE may need to make some room for fresher faces with more ability in the ring.
How in the world is Paige still employed by the WWE at this point? Since injuring her neck last year the 24-year-old has shown up at rival promotions, been involved in a domestic violence scandal and been the subject of a 2017 hacking that released some photos that weren’t so PG. So again I ask, how is it that the WWE is still considering bringing Paige back into the fold? Well according to the dirt sheets the WWE wants to cash in on the publicity that the former Divas Champion is bound to have with the release of her upcoming biopic that is being produced by The Rock. Some think the movie has given her immunity from being fired, but given her neck surgery and tumultuous relationship with outspoken WWE critic Alberto Del Rio, it’s only a matter of time before WWE pulls the plug on this once promising star.
12 Alicia Fox
Alicia Fox has struggled to find a place in the new women’s division. Sure she was a former WWE Divas Champion in 2010, but that was seven years ago. As a member of RAW, Fox has a slew of talent that she has to overcome just to get into the title picture. Given that Sasha Banks, Nia Jax, Alexa Bliss and Bayley are all top draws in the division, there just isn’t any room for Fox. And although it may not be fair morally, women wrestlers who are hired for their looks, don’t really tend to last forever in the WWE. Coming up on her 10 year anniversary with the company, unless something big happens soon it may be lights out for Alicia Fox.
11 Dolph Ziggler
When Cody Rhodes left the WWE this year, many called his decision foolish and irresponsible. Just three months later Rhodes is flourishing on the independents and allegedly making three times as much as he was in the WWE. So enough about Rhodes, we are supposed to be talking about Dolph Ziggler here. Ziggler was always a bigger star than Cody in the WWE, so it’s safe to assume that he would be able to make as much or more as the current ROH Champion if he decided to request his release. Dolph has always gotten the short end of the stick in the WWE, and a successful run in the independent scene and Japan might finally open some eyes up in the WWE. So will he be fired? No, but it’s safe to say that there is a good chance Ziggler will learn from Rhodes and bite the bullet, requesting his own release.
10 Curtis Axel
Why can’t Curtis Axel catch a break in the WWE? Every time he builds a little steam, his gimmick gets snatched away from him early. Besides a four(ish) month run as the Intercontinental Title back in 2013, Axel has been severely underutilized. Don’t believe me? Well, let’s play a game, before joining The Miz’s “Miztourage” name the last time you saw Axel wrestle a singles match on television. I’ll wait. It’s not like hates the third generation star behind the scenes, heck the WWE even used Axel as training for The Rock and Brock Lesnar to prepare for their returns to the ring. Even though those two stars talked him up, the WWE isn’t ready to give Axel his father’s gimmick, and they are throttling his chances of getting over with the crowd. He can’t work for Miz long as a heater, and when that stable disbands you can bank on Axel finally being released.
9 Bo Dallas
Since I just mentioned his current (and former) stable mate Curtis Axel, now would probably be a good time to bring up Bo Dallas. Dallas is only former NXT Champion who hasn’t challenged for a single championship since joining the main roster. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that Vince McMahon soured on his character early on after Bo couldn’t produce a reaction from the crowd after the first few weeks. Since being repackaged as one of the Miz’s heaters, Bo has regained a little bit of a spark, especially with the company finally touting him as a third generation superstar. But like most things in the WWE, if this current iteration of the character falls by the wayside, then there is a good chance that Bo will be released from his WWE contract.
Kane is a legend. The former WWE Champion is arguably the best big man to ever lace up a pair of boots. He was strong enough to legitimately pick up The Big Show, agile enough to fly off the top ropes and was scary enough to run the WWE as a top heel for a few years during the 2000s. The key word there is ‘was’. Sadly The Big Red Machine is now a shell of his former self, and more than ever can be considered a part timer on WWE television. Kane is currently taking a leave of absence from the WWE to pursue his goal of becoming the Mayor of Knox County in Tennessee. It would seem obvious that Kane will be accused of spreading himself too thin as the election goes forward, so don’t be surprised if the WWE grants Kane a full release in the coming months to protect his aspiration.
7 The Colons
I bet the Colons are making good use of their timeshare in Puerto Rico because the team hasn’t been in a televised match since the middle of June. Granted Primo has been recovering from an injury since then, but that still is a long time not to be featured in any capacity on Smackdown Live. In addition to their television time being cut, a shirt has recently appeared on the Twitter page of prowrestlingtees.com featuring Epico’s indie persona. Now if you are reading this article, then you know that the WWE doesn’t allow wrestlers to sell their own merchandise outside of the company. The logical conclusion is that The Colons are on their way back to World Wrestling Council, which is owned by their family in Puerto Rico.
When Rhyno made an unannounced appearance on an episode of NXT, many fans were shocked to learn that the veteran was back in the good graces of the WWE. If you remember Rhyno was fired from the company for having a heated argument with his wife in 2005 in the backstage area, which led to him trashing the WWE on TNA television. Even more surprising than that, however, is that up until that point NXT was a breeding ground for new wrestlers. Injecting Rhyno into the mix would mark the first time that a WWE veteran would return and work with the NXT recruits. Since then Rhyno has come back to the main roster and enjoyed a mildly successful run as a Smackdown Tag Team Champion alongside Heath Slater. Since being “shaken-up” to RAW, however, Rhyno has barely been in a match and is usually only booked as 50-50 at best. At 41 and close to 300 pounds, Rhyno may be on his WWE farewell tour in 2017.
5 The Big Show
Although he is in the best shape of his WWE career, The Big Show has made it pretty clear that he doesn’t have much left in the tank. The World’s Largest Athlete has actually stated publically that he will hang up his boots in February of 2018. So the real question here is how will the WWE send off a guy who really never lived up to his full potential as a giant in the wrestling industry. Well, if the recent months are any indication of his storylines moving forward, then we can assume that he will be putting over the guys in the company who are comparable in size and strength. Don’t be surprised if we see a long term program between the former WWE Champion and Big Cass, or even a battle of the giants between Show and Braun Strowman. It would be a true passing of the torch of Strowman is the man to retire Big Show, but that is just fantasy booking for now.
4 Aiden English
Now that his tag team partner Simon Gotch has gotten the boot, the clock is ticking on Aiden English’s time in the WWE. Sure he has reverted back to his singing gimmick that he had prior to joining The Vaudevillains, but where does English fit in on SmackDown Live? It’s not really like he can challenge for the WWE Championship, and the United States Title hunt is filled with top tier talents currently. The only other championship he can be in contention for is the Tag Team Title, but without a partner that is out of the window. It just seems that English is floating around in the company without much to do, and that spells trouble for his future with the WWE.
3 Nikki Bella
There were doubts that Nikki Bella would ever wrestle again following her October 2015 neck injury, which required surgery to repair. When the former Divas Champion returned to the ring just ten months later, many fans were skeptical that she could keep up in the new more competitive women’s division. After floating around the division for a while Bella took part in a storyline with her real life boyfriend John Cena, which culminated in the most predictable way possible at WrestleMania 33. After winning their match Cena proposed to Bella, and The Fearless One hasn’t been seen on WWE programming since. Bella has now accomplished her goal of making a WrestleMania moment, and with that will probably split from the company mutually as the division has passed her by.
2 The Ascension
For nearly two years the NXT fans and the IWC sang the praises of The Ascension after they joined FCW in 2011. The duo continued to dominate the tag team division during FCW's transition into NXT, and the team seemed poised to help revitalize an ailing division on the main roster. In 2014 The Ascension debuted on RAW to a less than a stellar reaction, which was the beginning of the end for the newcomers. Since then, the team hasn’t won a single match since September of 2015 and are currently jobbers to teams who job. Sadly this all could have been prevented if the WWE would have given them a proper debut after a major pay per view like WrestleMania. Given their losing streak, and inability to get over with the crowd, these guys might be the first to get the ax when heads start rolling.
1 Daniel Bryan
Do you want to see Daniel Bryan (or Bryan Danielson in this case) wrestle again? If your answer is YES YES YES, then you are in luck. Bryan has been teasing for months that he will be leaving the WWE after his current contract expires to wrestle for other companies. Currently, Bryan is not cleared to wrestle for the WWE due to his prior concussions and a lesion that doctors found in his brain. Although New Japan Pro-Wrestling is where Bryan would like to go, they have similar concussion policies that will hurt his chances of signing with the foreign company. If nothing else the former WWE Champion will wrestle on smaller shows on the independent wrestling circuit and will make a pretty good chunk of change doing so.