Projecting Where These 15 Recent WWE Releases Will Be In 2020

If you’re a professional wrestler, WWE is the top of the mountain. They may not be your favorite promotion in the world, but they are certainly the largest and richest. Wrestlers grow up wanting to wrestle in WWE the same way that aspiring football players hope to make it to the NFL. Sure, it’s possible to make a living wrestling outside of WWE, but making it there will always be on your mind. So what happens when you make it to WWE and are released? What comes next? Do you bounce around the indies hoping they call you again? Do you give up and try something else?

Those are questions that some of WWE’s most recent releases. Some quit, some were fired, and some were seemingly snuck out of the company under the cover of darkness, but each of them faces a future that wasn’t quite as certain when they were getting those WWE paychecks. For some, their departure represents the start of an exciting future. Others fear that they might have peaked. When it’s all said and done, though, where will these wrestlers be just a few years down the line? These are our projections for where these 15 recent WWE released will be in 2020.

15 Wade Barrett - A Brief Indie Run to Fund An Average Acting Career

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Wade Barrett is one of the great “What If?” guys in WWE history. At first, it looked like Barrett was going to climb WWE’s corporate ladder and become a breakout star. After all, he was the centerpiece of WWE’s fascinating NXT rebellion storyline. However, Barrett just never quite reached that next level of stardom. He tried to do so during his solo run as Bad News Barrett, but a combination of injuries and bad booking helped ensure that Barrett remained a mid-card regular.

WWE released Barrett for a variety of reasons, but it’s not believed that any of them had to do with attitude problems. As such, we could see him making a brief return to WWE for some extra cash while pursuing his acting career.

14 Simon Gotch - High School/Bingo Hall Indie Wrestler

via wrestlingrumors.net

One of the things that helped NXT stand out from the main roster early on was the NXT creative team’s ability to make the most out of the roster they had. NXT had some great wrestlers on the roster, but guys like Aiden English and Simon Gotch weren’t exactly on their way to the Hall of Fame. Nevertheless, NXT’s creative team managed to turn them into a clever tandem called The Vaudevillians. The team enjoyed a memorable NXT run, but struggled to achieve main roster relevance. Eventually, Gotch was released due to reported attitude and performance issues.

Simply put, Gotch is not the kind of guy that WWE is going to regret letting go and probably has little chance of making it back to the company’s main roster. He’ll bounce around the low-tier indies for the next few years.

13 Santino Marella -  NXT/WWE Trainer

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Santino Marella isn’t exactly thought of as an all-time great WWE wrestler. He spent most of his time as a mid-card comedy act who was usually WWE’s go-to guy for bad backstage sketches. Still, Marella was an incredibly entertaining performer who managed to win most crowds over when he played the ultimate underdog card. Marella is a guy that did whatever WWE asked him to, and he usually did it quite well. Marella left WWE on good terms and immediately started training Japanese athletes in both professional wrestling and mixed martial arts. Given that he has experience training young wrestlers, is able to cut a great promo, and is believed to be well-liked by most WWE executives, we don’t imagine a world in which Marella doesn’t become a WWE trainer at some point.

12 Alberto Del Rio - Champion of Mexican Promotion Followed by Jail Time

via wwe.com

It’s hard to believe that Alberto Del Rio made his main roster WWE debut in 2010. At the time, many felt Del Rio was in a good position to be WWE’s next big international star. He was a great worker, he had a good look, he wasn’t bad on the microphone, and he already had a huge following in Mexico. However, it wasn’t long before everyone realized that that Del Rio and WWE didn’t agree on quite a few things. While it’s true that Del Rio was invited back to WWE following his 2014 departure, the fact that Del Rio’s reported attitude problems haven’t gotten any better in that time suggests that he isn’t going to be welcomed back once more. We imagine his attitude problems will keep him low on the global wrestling card. Specifically, we see Del Rio as a touring champion for a Mexican promotion come 2020. That, or he'll be in jail for doing something stupid.

11 ZZ Loupe - Working a Regular Job

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Tough Enough has to be one of the worst experiments in WWE history. A reality show about people learning how tough it is to become a professional wrestler is a pretty good idea. Actually offering those people a WWE contract and giving them a respectable push? Not a good idea. ZZ Loupe is probably the ultimate example of everything wrong with the Tough Enough concept. ZZ was lazy, untalented, and mostly devoid of charisma. Who knows why WWE decided to sign him despite the fact that he didn’t even win the competition. ZZ quickly burned out on his way to the WWE roster and was fired due to a general lack of talent. ZZ says he’s going to pursue a wrestling career, but it seems much more likely that he will find himself working a regular job.

10 Adam Rose - Part-Time Actor/Online Personality

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Adam Rose’s road to the main roster was not an easy one. He began wrestling in South Africa at the age of 15 and was convinced that he was going to become a professional wrestler. After spending years on the indie circuit, Rose was brought into WWE’s developmental program in 2010. It soon became clear that WWE weren’t going to turn him into a huge star. However, Rose did attract a small following when he adopted a kind of party boy gimmick that certainly stood out from the pack. Despite that, he was soon relegated to backstage skits and low-card matches.

At 38 years old, Rose’s chances for a WWE comeback are almost non-existent. Rose has stated that 2017 is probably his final year as a wrestler. Assuming he saved his money, we see him becoming a part-time actor or online personality.

9 Alex Riley - Touring the Autograph Convention Circuit

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As a general rule of thumb, if you’re a WWE wrestler who is best known for your association with another, more famous WWE wrestler, that’s probably a sign that something has gone wrong during your career. The most famous example of this effect in WWE history would probably be Virgil. As Million Dollar Man’s bodyguard, Virgil was a fairly popular performer. As a standalone competitor, he didn’t exactly set the world on fire. We honestly think that Alex Riley - aka The Miz’s bodyguard/protege - is going to end up in roughly the same boat. Riley never justified the brief push WWE gave him and has since left many people shaking their heads when they remember that Riley actually had a job in WWE. Riley will likely be touring the autograph convention circuit alongside Virgil in a few years.

8 Eva Marie - Failed Actress/Full-Time Model

Eva Marie is an insanely attractive woman who was brought in at a time when WWE’s female competitors just needed to look good. That worked for a time, but fans soon realized that Eva Marie was just never going to get better. WWE tried to help her get better by sending her to NXT, but aside from an entertaining run as the company’s most believable heel, Marie just never did much with her time in WWE. Now that she has finally left the company after months of dropping public hints that she was out the door, Marie has stated that she intends to focus on her acting career. While that sounds...neat, we imagine that Marie will likely settle for some modelling gigs and possibly the occasional role in a B-grade film.

7 HoHo Lun - Rehired By WWE, Brief Push, Quick Departure

via wwe.com

A few years ago, WWE decided that they were going to start expanding into China in a big way. Vince - or other WWE execs - probably saw how big the American film industry is in China and wanted to get in on some of those millions. WWE hoped that HoHo Lun might become China’s “hometown star” and that they could eventually turn him into a Rey Mysterio or Jinder Mahal. Recently, Lung asked for his release so that he could take care of his ill mother. We’re fairly confident that Lung will return to WWE and enjoy a brief push. However, it likely won’t last long as Lun hasn’t really proven that he can be something special. By 2020, he’ll likely have returned and left again.

6 Hulk Hogan - Re-Signed By WWE Before Making More Controversial Comments

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A few years ago, WWE decided that they were going to start expanding into China in a big way. Vince - or other WWE execs - probably saw how big the American film industry is in China and wanted to get in on some of those millions. WWE hoped that HoHo Lun might become China’s “hometown star” and that they could eventually turn him into a Rey Mysterio or Jinder Mahal. Recently, Lung asked for his release so that he could take care of his ill mother. We’re fairly confident that Lung will return to WWE and enjoy a brief push. However, it likely won’t last long as Lun hasn’t really proven that he can be something special. By 2020, he’ll likely have returned and left again.

5 Ryback - Doing Shoot Interviews and Selling Bodybuilding Products

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Given that Vince McMahon will always have a weird thing for really big guys who look like they might have been better off becoming bodybuilders, it shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise to anyone that Ryback received a monster push once upon a time. That said, Ryback didn’t really deserve the push that he received. Still, WWE kept him around for a few years and allowed Ryback to build up a bit of a fanbase. Those fans were shocked when Ryback was released, but it soon became clear that Ryback’s release was at least partially based on his huge ego problem and general levels of stupidity. Ryback is doing okay on the indie scene right now, but we don’t imagine it will be long before Ryback is doing shoot interviews and selling bodybuilding products.

4 Jack Swagger - Future New Japan Wrestler and Bullet Club Member

via wwe.com

Jack Swagger arrived in WWE around the time that WWE were looking to replace Kurt Angle. Now, while the company probably knew that nobody could immediately replace Kurt Angle, they did figure that they could push an All-American amateur wrestler type and pass him off as a budget Kurt Angle. Swagger spent many years in WWE as a low rent replacement for Kurt Angle, which is kind of a shame when you consider that Swagger was always a pretty talented guy in his own right. It’s a shame that WWE never really figured out what they were going to do with Swagger - and Swagger’s personal problems didn’t help - but their loss might be someone else’s gain. We see Swagger joining a company like New Japan and becoming a Bullet Club member.

3 Damien Sandow - Tries Acting, But Ends Up Touring the Indies

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Ever since the rise of the internet wrestling community, there have been wrestlers that online fans seem to think is the best in the world despite the fact that WWE pays them little to no attention. Luke Harper is a good recent example of this phenomenon, but Damien Sandow is one of the all-time great cases of fans rallying behind someone that WWE could seemingly care less about. Sandow had charisma, skills, and looks. He just didn’t have the support of anyone in WWE willing to push him as a star. Following his release in 2016, Sando toured the indies before signing with TNA. At present, Sandow isn’t wrestling for anyone as he says he wants to focus on his acting career (noticing a trend?). However, since Sandow is seemingly still in good standing with WWE, we think that he is going to eventually return as a commentator or road agent.

2 Austin Aries - Retired Wrestler/Backstage Role in Ring of Honor

For years, fans wondered when WWE was going to sign Austin Aries. Around 2003-2004, many considered Aries to be one of the best in-ring wrestlers on the planet. As Aries grew older and developed an incredible modern day cocky heel persona, fans were even more anxious to see him finally debut in WWE. Then Aries debuted in WWE and few people seemed to really care. Aries had fans, but by the time he arrived in NXT, he was clearly a few years past his performance and popularity primes. It certainly didn’t help that Aries reportedly had quite the attitude problem which eventually led to his release. Aries will likely never re-sign with WWE again, but the 39-year old performer will likely assume a behind the scenes role in Ring of Honor.

1 Cody Rhodes - An Eventual Return to WWE Followed By a Career as a Road Agent

via wrestlezone.com

The departure of Cody Rhodes is certainly one of the most surprising WWE releases in recent years. We knew that most fans were tired of seeing Cody play the Stardust gimmick even though he was once positioned as a potential main event player, but few people knew just how disappointed Rhodes was that WWE hadn’t given him something meaningful for him to do. After some soul searching, Rhodes decided to leave WWE and test his fortunes on the open market. What he’s discovered is that a former WWE star can make a lot of money on the indies and in New Japan if they promote themselves correctly. As such, Rhodes isn’t likely to return to WWE soon, but we could see him back in the company by the year 2020. Once there, Rhodes will likely retire and assume a road agent/trainer role.

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