As we all know by now, any wrestling promotion's roster is apt to go through multiple significant changes during any given year. It's the nature of the business, and new talent is always looking to be acquired. Because of this, veterans and younger wrestlers alike are all candidates to make a switch to another promotion. For WWE, this process is only magnified, and the departures and acquisitions for the roster are always of great interest.
Of course, not everybody who leaves WWE gets the axe. Instead, some elect to depart on their own volition, and decide that their talent is better served elsewhere. There are a variety of reasons for this, but a current lack of opportunity in WWE is usually one of the main factors. Indeed, WWE always had a select group of wrestlers that they have an unwavering belief in, and more often than not, they'll be the ones to receive the big push.
There's going to be a crop of wrestlers who won't be in the WWE ranks come next year, whether they're let go from the company, or they quit. Let's take a look at who this applies to.
Ranked below are 15 wrestlers who will soon be gone from WWE.
16 Fired: Rusev
You can see Rusev's character beginning to swirl the drain right now. He's been involved in stale storylines, and his best work is quite clearly behind him. They've run out of ideas for his character, and there's little doubt that they're gearing for a release in the near future. Rusev is still young enough to catch on with another promotion, so it isn't the end of the world as far as his career is concerned.
The thought process on WWE's part is understandable though. There's only so much you can do with these kinds of wrestlers. Rusev is a good talent, but he's also slightly one-dimensional as both a wrestler and entertainer. Look for him to be released in the next six months, and establish himself somewhere else.
15 Quit: Goldust
Dustin Runnels has carved out a niche for himself in WWE as Goldust over the past 20 years or so, and it's been one of the most improbably successful gimmicks of all-time. But Runnels is getting up there in age, and it's fair to wonder how much longer he's willing to sit on the lower mid-card ranks, without much in the way of a real storyline. There's an argument to be made that says he's better off just leaving the company all together.
It takes talent (no doubt inherited by Runnels from his father Dusty Rhodes) to make such a ridiculous gimmick a success for such a long period of time. However, there's a timeline for everything, and Runnels is reaching the end of his in WWE. Expect him to walk out sometime in the next year, and more than likely retire all together.
14 Fired: Luke Harper
The disbanding of the Wyatt Family spelled the end for Harper as a noteworthy WWE star. There's little chance he's able to succeed as a singles wrestler, or at least that's how management will book him. Many in Harper's position have seen a downturn in usage, and never got the push they truly wanted or deserved. It's clear that WWE sees Bray Wyatt as the potential singles star, so ultimately they'll roll with him.
It just depends on how long Harper is able to hang on to his spot in the mid-card. Eventually, WWE is likely to move on from him, and include him in the next round of cuts. Harper was dependent on the Wyatt Family for success in WWE, and now that it's over, his time with the company will be short.
13 Quit: Chris Jericho
Jericho will continue to be an on-and-off participant in the WWE ranks for the rest of his career, and soon he'll be takin another break. His feud with Kevin Owens is essentially old news at this point, and there's really very little else for him to do right now. Of course, given the caliber of entertainer that he is, Jericho is capable of winging a few segments in the meantime, but by and large he needs to re-tool with a new feud.
So expect him to take a break again in the coming months, and then eventually return for another storyline. Now that the Owens angle is played out, someone needs to fill that void and feud with Jericho. He's essentially on a part-time basis with the company anyway, so some time off won't be a big deal.
12 Fired: Enzo Amore
Ever since the dissolution of the Enzo & Big Cass tag team, it's safe to say that there's not going to be much of a plan for either wrestler in the singles ranks. Together, they were one of the most charismatic duos of the past decade or so in WWE, but separated, it's a different story. Enzo isn't the kind of wrestler that WWE would give a push to outside of the tag team circuit, so there's real questions of fit here.
Ultimately, he'll probably be let go before he leaves on his own. Great skills on the mic won't be enough to keep Enzo around for the long haul, and he wouldn't get much opportunity even if he was. He's a prime candidate to get fired within the next six months.
10 Quit: R-Truth
Ron Killings is a veteran wrestler, and one that doesn't really need to be in WWE any longer than he wants to. He has the luxury of calling it quits anytime he wants to, and with his general lack of usage at this point in his career, that could be very soon. Ever since the dissolution of his tag team with Goldust, he's been on the outs as far as his presence on WWE programming.
That only signifies a potential departure from the company in the near future. Killings will likely want to walk out on his own accord, and he may even retire in full. It's been a good run for him (although his best work came outside of WWE), and expect him to be a notable name off the roster by the start of 2018.
9 Fired: Brian Kendrick
Firmly entrenched in the mid-card of the Cruiserweight division, Kendrick doesn't have much time left with the company. He's well past his prime, and his sole purpose now serves as a recognizable name working as enhancement talent of younger wrestlers. There was a time when Kendrick was an integral part of the WWE cruiserweights, but that is no more, and he'll be looking at a release relatively soon.
There's simply nothing left for him to do, and he's going to be one of the first on the chopping bock once WWE makes its next big wave of cuts. There's no reason for Kendrick to be ashamed, given his age, but it's just the reality of the situation at this point.
8 Quit: Brock Lesnar
At this point, it's a given that Lesnar is going to jump back and forth between the MMA and wrestling worlds seamlessly. Yes, he's the Universal Champion right now, but that's going to have a short shelf-life. Once Lesnar is booked to lose the title, he'll take another hiatus from WWE, only to return when it benefits him to do so.
This is the pattern that we've seen from Lesnar over the last several years, and there's little reason to expect it to change. He's at the point at this career where he's an attraction, not a long-term member of any roster for any single promotion. He's going to follow the money, and soon that will likely be in MMA, not WWE. Given Lesnar's celebrity and crossover appeal, this is a smart way to operate.
7 Fired: Gran Metalik
Metalik is a legitimate luchador who has excelled for years in CMLL and NJPW before entering the WWE ranks. Because of this, he has little chance to receive any kind of a push, even in the confines of the Cruiserweight division. He's counted on to provide a good match once in a while, and nothing more. WWE has consistently shown that they'll bury these kinds of wrestlers the majority of the time.
Eventually, Metalik will likely be let go, and that only means that he'll go overseas to excel with another promotion. This one is coming soon, and by 2018 he's unlikely to be on the WWE roster. It probably serves him the best, because it's clear that he's just not getting the opportunities that someone of his experience and pedigree deserves.
6 Quit: Big Show
He's hung around in a limited capacity for the last several years, but it's coming time for Show to call it quits. Simply one of the dominant WWE wrestlers of all-time, he's proven his worth time and time again. Though not ridiculously old, his career has a lot of mileage on it, and for someone of his size, it's fair to wonder just how long he can maintain an active in-ring career.
It's tough to say when exactly Show will hang up the boots, but a safe bet would be within the next year or so. He certainly isn't going to be cut from the roster, and he'll be given the opportunity to leave on his own volition. The question just remains when he's thinking it'll be over, and whether he wants to try and stretch it even further.
5 Fired: The Hardy Boyz
The Hardyz did return this year to much fanfare, and ended up winning the Raw Tag Titles at WrestleMania, before dropping them to Sheamus and Cesaro at Battleground. This should signal the beginning of the end for their return to WWE, given their age. For Jeff Hardy in particular, he's not one that many companies feel comfortable about taking a risk on, given his past troubles which have caused problems.
In the end, the Hardyz reunion was just probably used as a filler storyline to buy time for the tag division. At this point in their careers, there's little doubt that their best days are behind them. A return to the indies seems imminent, and this could be the final run that Jeff and Matt see in WWE, when it's all said and done. Expect them to be on the move by the end of the year.
4 Quit: Rhyno
The new tag team with Heath Slater seems to be a mismatch. There's really no doubt that WWE has run out of ideas for Rhyno, who gets by more on name recognition than anything else these days. He's a tenured veteran, and at this point is just a guy lost in the shuffle. There's better opportunity for Rhyno on the indy scene, where at least he'll have a lighter workload, and can sit back on the money he's made in WWE and TNA in years past.
No denying that he's one of the marquee names of the late-'90s and early-'00s wrestling scene, but today that just doesn't hold much weight with mainstream audiences. Rhyno will be fine either way, but probably won't last out the year in WWE, and could be gone for good this time.
3 Fired: Shinsuke Nakamura
Even with all of the recent hype surrounding Nakamura and his title shot against Jinder Mahal at SummerSlam, there's still reason to be skeptical about him becoming a major player on the WWE main event scene. It's no secret that WWE has traditionally squandered opportunities to turn Japanese wrestlers into stars once they come over to the company. Nakamura was a star in NJPW for years, but only recently has he been ascending the ranks of WWE, or at least he appears to.
The whole thing is just suspect. Why would they wait until now to give Nakamura a legitimate push, considering his pedigree was already established by the time they had first signed him? Be wary of this. Nakamura may just be next in line on the chopping block, and this title shot is just a nice parting gift.
2 Quit: Seth Rollins
Maybe this one is a question mark, but something indicates to me that Rollins is due for a surprise departure. His stock had been rising in 2017, before he suffered an ill-timed knee injury that kept him out of action for a while. This was another in a line of several major injuries for Rollins, and it remains to be seen whether or not management sees him as a legitimate cornerstone of the company.
Nobody doubts Rollins' ability, but if these injuries keep occurring, then WWE is likely going to roll with someone else as a consistent main event star. If Rollins doesn't get a significant push in the next few months, he may jump ship all together. One thing he hasn't done in his career is dominate internationally. Right now, NJPW is looking for any new star they can get, due to their recent expansion into the U.S. market. Rollins could fit the bill if he's willing.
1 Fired: Jinder Mahal
Without commenting on the stupidity of the Mahal push and title reign in full, it's safe to say his longevity in WWE is going to be in jeopardy. This was a poorly thought-up angle, and is right now one of the worst WWE Title reigns in recent memory, but there's always a breaking point somewhere with these things. Management knows that this is ultimately a transitional champion, and once Mahal falls out of favor, he's likely to be included on a list of roster cuts at some point.
Perhaps this isn't imminent, but it's coming sooner than some people think. Mahal has never been a talent worthy of main event recognition throughout his entire career, and we can only hope that it takes just a short while longer for WWE to come to their senses. Right now, it just stands as a woefully botched angle, and a terrible decision for a push.