With Royal Rumble fast approaching and WrestleMania following behind, the WWE will soon look to revamp its roster and rid itself of talent that hasn't been used much on TV in recent months, while others will simply retire upon the end of their contract or finish out their careers wrestling for various independent promotions. We already witnessed the company release a few talented wrestlers earlier this year in Austin Aries, Emma, and Darren Young, among others, but they have, for the most part, maintained their most talented wrestlers. However, that could change significantly in 2018 as it looks to inject fresh blood into the roster to ignite storylines and make for different matches on TV.
It's a tad disappointing because most everyone on this list is talented in their own way, but the truth is there's only so much TV time to go around and those who aren't on TV are only so valuable as regular performers in house shows. Fortunately, the talent level in the WWE is at an all-time high; it's just a matter of whether or not the company utilizes its talent correctly. If they do, there's a chance we may not miss some of these potential fired or retired wrestlers.
15 Fired: Fandango
We could have probably included the Breezango tag team here, but Tyler Breeze is seven years younger than Fandango and still fresher in the minds of WWE fans, whereas Fandango's character might be running stale after over five years on the main roster. While it seems the company has found something with Breezango's Fashion Files segments, they still hardly appear in matches on TV and are hardly in contention for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship. How long can they continue to use them in only comedic filler segments?
The winner of season four of NXT, it's hard to believe Fandango has never won a championship in the WWE, despite the fact Pro Wrestling Illustrated ranked him as the 59th best singles wrestler in the world in 2013.
14 Retired: Mickie James
Mickie James is still a talented in-ring worker and has incredible athleticism, which she proved earlier this year in multiple matches, including a Raw Women's Championship program against Alexa Bliss. She fared quite well in the rivalry and proved she was still capable of putting over up-and-coming or already-established stars, not to mention the fact she's one of the most pure babyfaces of all-time (save for the Trish Stratus obsession gimmick).
However, the Women's division is rapidly expanding in the WWE and James just might be a casualty of that. She has quite a decorated history with the company that it might be a bad look if they fired her; instead, she might "retire" with a backstage role awaiting her. At the very least, it's nearly impossible to see her remaining relevant in the division.
13 Fired: Titus O'Neil
WWE Creative is hard to figure out on a week-to-week basis. A few weeks ago, Titus O'Neil looked incredibly strong and determined in a match against Samoa Joe. He ultimately lost the match, but showed some flashes that might indicate he was ready to take the next step toward regaining relevancy. However, he wasn't used the following two weeks and appears to be left in Titus Worldwide purgatory with the under-utilized Apollo Crews.
The former WWE Tag Team Champion is now 40 years old and really doesn't appear to have much of a place on Raw right now. A move to SmackDown Live might help his career, but it seems more so the case that WWE really doesn't have anything for him. Save for a major push for Apollo Crews, it doesn't seem likely that O'Neil lasts beyond 2018.
12 Retired: Rhyno
The casual wrestling fan might even be surprised that Rhyno is still on the roster. The 42 year old returned in 2015 to help out with NXT and actually earned the promotion to the main roster; not only that, he became the inaugural SmackDown Tag Team Champions alongside Heath Slater. Now on Raw, both Superstars are used sporadically to job to better teams or appear in holiday gimmick matches. It's not an envious place to be in.
Outside of the Tag Team division on Raw, which should get an injection upon the return of Dash and Wilder, there's really nothing for Rhyno to do on the show. A move to SmackDown would be ineffective as well as the Tag Team division is even better there than it is on Raw.
11 Fired: Multiple Cruiserweights
It's no secret that 205 Live hasn't exactly been the success the WWE had anticipated. Moving Enzo Amore to the brand has made it a tad more relevant, but nobody is tuning in to see his matches. The increased presence on Raw has seemed to help the brand as we're being exposed more to the likes of Drew Gulak and Cedric Alexander, among others, but it really doesn't seem as if there's many formidible opponents for Amore - the Kalisto feud was boring and Neville is in limbo right now.
Hideo Itami could make things interesting, but that remains to be seen. If WWE doesn't scrap the entire division by the end of 2018, it seems likely it will at least significantly cut its roster. Be honest, would you really miss Tony Nese, Mustafa Ali, Gran Metalik, Gentleman Jack Gallagher, or Ariya Daivari?
10 Retired: R-Truth
R-Truth is similar to Rhyno in that he hasn't been used much lately and is well-past his prime. The difference is he's in much better shape, so it seems reasonable to suggest he could continue wrestling for a few more years, despite the fact he'll turn 46 years old in January. He actually had a decent program with Goldust following the split of The Golden Truth, but it seemed to stop dead in its tracks and didn't play out as long as one might have expected.
He's currently recovering from surgery required for an arm injury, which can be hard to overcome at his age. Perhaps he's back for Royal Rumble and maybe he's used to round out live events throughout 2018, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him call it a career in the near future.
9 Fired: Curt Hawkins
At 32 years old, Curt Hawkins is still relatively young for a professional wrestler, despite the fact he has been with WWE and its developmental territories for over a decade. Of course, he worked briefly on the independent scene and with TNA before returning to the company again in 2016, but his overall success has been quite limited.
He is a former WWE Tag Team Champion with Zack Ryder, but has failed to achieve any sort of singles success. Earlier this year, it looked as though he was ready to run with a losing streak gimmick that could have had a big pay off when he finally won, but he hasn't been seen on TV in months since being beat down by Braun Strowman. It seems unlikely he lasts through 2018.
8 Retired: Brian Kendrick
We could have included him in the Cruiserweight category, but Brian Kendrick seems unlikely to be fired from the company given his longevity and contributions. Like Mickie James, it seems more likely that he's pushed into retirement or leaves of his own accord to pursue other opportunities on the independent scene. The 38 year old debuted in the WWE in 2002 after a previous stint with its development territory Memphis Championship Wrestling. He later spent time in TNA and ROH, but returned in 2005 for another four-year stint. His third stint with the company started in 2014.
While he has had some success this time around, it's clear the WWE needs to showcase some of the younger talent in the Cruiserweight division. Kendrick is also a prominent trainer with the company, so he could opt to do that full-time upon retirement from the ring.
7 Fired: Tamina
Along with Natalya, Tamina is one of the longest-tenured women in the WWE. And while she has certainly earned the respect from fans and other wrestlers in the Women's division, it's clear the 39 year old isn't quite the star she once was. While she never won a Women's Championship in her nine-year career, she did have multiple opportunities. Now, however, it seems as though winning a championship is well beyond her reach.
She was good as a foil for Nia Jax in the Survivor Series match and could certainly be used as a dominating force in the women's Royal Rumble if that were to happen as rumored, but beyond that there's little place for her in the improving Women's division aside from being a bodyguard-type manager for someone. Lana as her manager simply isn't working.
6 Retired: Goldust
To be honest, despite the fact he is 48 years old, Dustin Runnels could probably still work another few years in the company. The winner of 20 total championships in the WWE and WCW, his Goldust character has somehow stood the test of time and survived past the Attitude Era, despite society changing drastically during that time. It's a testament to his dedication to the character and his in-ring abilities.
He's had some memorable moments in the past year and is in great shape after overcoming past troubles in his life, but it's hard to fathom him continuing to wrestle night-in and night-out at live shows for another year. Maybe there's a role for him backstage or as an on-screen authority figure, but you should probably expect the future WWE Hall of Famer to retire in 2018.
5 Fired: The Colons
Primo and Epico are former WWE Tag Team Championships and current members of the SmackDown Live brand, although you would never know it, even if you watched every episode of SmackDown since the start of this past summer. Following the Superstar Shakeup, it appeared as though they might have a compelling program with American Alpha, but that didn't come to fruition. A month later, Primo suffered a knee injury, but he has been health for the past few months.
Instead of returning to TV, they have been wrestling live events - although they did serve as lumberjacks in the New Day versus Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn match following Survivor Series. The Tag Team division on SmackDown Live right now is surprisingly crowded and it's tough to envision The Colons earning another chance at relevance.
4 Retired: Kane
It was quite a surprise when Kane returned on Raw prior to TLC. He had been off TV for over ten months as he was preparing to run for mayor of Knoxville, Tennessee, but he returned to attack Roman Reigns and eventually started a program with Braun Strowman. What's confusing is that, prior to re-joining Raw, Kane hadn't been that much of a dominating force, yet upon his return he has been built up to give the idea that he's a formidable opponent to Strowman.
Like Goldust, Kane has been part of the WWE since the Attitude Era and is obviously well past his prime. He's still in decent shape, but is considerably slower than he once was and will turn 51 years old in April. If he wins the race for mayor, it's almost a certainty that he retires.
3 Fired: The Ascension
At least Tyler Breeze and Fandango headline a filler segment on SmackDown Live. Viktor and Konnor of The Ascension are only sub-characters in the segment and have minor roles. One might expect they could have been pushed to fill the role currently held by The Bludgeon Brothers as a dominating, physical tag team, but they have instead been used poorly since coming to the main roster.
In NXT, The Ascension were actually a threat to be taken seriously and even won the NXT Tag Team Championships, but they haven't done anything in the WWE that would signal fans should take them seriously. In fact, the last time we even saw them on TV they sacrificed themselves so Breezango could escape a gas-filled room. It wouldn't even be all that surprising if that's the last time they appear on TV.
2 Retired: Brock Lesnar
It's no secret that Brock Lesnar has other passions outside of wrestling he wants to pursue - in fact, on his latest podcast, Sam Roberts even theorized that Lesnar hates wrestling, but just happens to be good at it. That might be true as he has had as many awful matches as five-star matches; there's seemingly no in-between for The Beast.
The most-reported rumor out there is that Lesnar will leave the WWE following WrestleMania 34 and most expect he'll leave the Universal Championship with Roman Reigns. He's barely on-screen anyway to begin with, so his departure might actually be a good thing for the company in that the Universal Champion can now be an active part of Raw. There's just something special about a main event championship match, even if we know the title isn't changing hands on Raw.
1 Fired: Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt's career could go one of two ways in the next year, depending on how is upcoming program with "Woken" Matt Hardy unfolds. The Woken character certainly has the opportunity to push Hardy as a singles competitor, especially if it continues to be backed by fans as it has thus far, but is it at all possible the WWE uses it to further the career of Wyatt? If they were smart, they would at least allow the feud to lead to a change of Wyatt's character, but that seems unlikely.
Instead, Wyatt will likely come out the loser in his program with Hardy and nothing will change. Since his one-month stint as WWE Champion, Wyatt has failed to win any matches of significance, while his act continues to grow tiresome. He's been a valuable wrestler for the company for a number of years, but if there is going to be one major surprise firing in 2018 it's going to be Wyatt.