WrestleMania 34 is fast approaching, and WWE’s premier event will soon be upon us on April 8, 2018. As it should, there is a lot of emphasis on making sure WrestleMania is a huge success for everyone involved. Once WrestleMania season ends and all the hype surrounding the event has come to a close, the landscape in WWE starts to change a little bit.
The post-WrestleMania season often includes some new debuts on WWE’s main roster to help change things up a bit. In the past, this has meant the introduction of wrestlers who the WWE has lured away from other promotions. In recent years, however, this has also been the time when we have seen NXT stars get the promotion to the main roster. The timing makes a lot of sense, as some of the part-time stars often disappear for several weeks until SummerSlam season starts up. This provides an opportunity for new stars to be made since they have an opportunity to grab some precious TV time.
On the flip side, this is one of the times some of the lesser used and low-ranked wrestlers fear most. Post-WrestleMania season is often when WWE releases several wrestlers who they have nothing for creatively or spots they want to clear in favour of bringing in new wrestlers. Wrestlers are usually released in groups by WWE, unless there is some other outstanding reason (as was the case with Enzo Amore’s release). Fortunately, there seems to be a change in viable opportunities for wrestlers outside of WWE. If a wrestler finds themselves getting “future endeavoured” by WWE in the coming months, then there should not be as much reason to worry.
It is almost inevitable that there will be some releases in the next few months, just as there will be wrestlers making their debuts with WWE. It’s a transitional period that happens nearly every year, and 2018 probably won’t be any different. Let’s take a look at 8 WWE Superstars who could be released, and 7 wrestlers who will be making their debuts with the company in the next few months.
16 Released: Paige
Paige’s future with the WWE remains very much in doubt once again. After making her return to WWE in November 2017, Paige seemed to be on the upswing again as she formed the heel faction Absolution, with Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. Just over a month later, Paige suffered a brutal neck injury during a match with Sasha Banks. It has been widely speculated the injury might force Paige to retire from in-ring competition.
Though she has returned to WWE TV in a manager role, she likely won’t be satisfied with that role.
In a manner similar to Daniel Bryan, Paige will probably be adamant that she can still wrestle but WWE will refuse to clear her. Paige is not afraid to do as she pleases and will try to compete elsewhere after WWE eventually releases her within the next several months.
15 Debuting: James Storm
This is a signing that may only be a matter of time. James Storm made a big name for himself with TNA/Impact Wrestling, before leaving the company like so many others before him. Storm made some brief appearances in NXT, but returned to the then-TNA for a while instead. In the past year, Storm has made it pretty clear that he has moved on from Impact Wrestling and it isn’t likely he will return to the promotion.
He has been appearing for various independent promotions and claims to be quite happy doing so, but it would be hard to pass up the surely lucrative contract WWE offers.
It also helps that Storm, in a January 2018 interview, revealed his ultimate goal is to sign with the WWE and become a big star for the promotion. It seems very likely that Storm will get his chance by debuting with WWE within the next few months.
14 Released: Daniel Bryan
Unfortunately for fans of Daniel Bryan, it is looking increasingly likely that Bryan will not be a member of WWE by the end of the year. Everyone knows that Bryan desperately wants to be an active wrestler again and has gone to great lengths to try to achieve medical clearance. His first choice is to return to the ring with WWE and have another WrestleMania moment.
WWE is trying to protect themselves and Bryan, still refusing to medically clear him to compete.
Eventually things will have to come to a head and, if they refuse, Bryan will not hesitate to leave and compete for another promotion. It is doubtful WWE will release Bryan, nor will he make his departure too acrimonious, in hopes of doing business together again in the future.
13 Debuting: Zack Sabre Jr.
205 Live looks like it might be starting to gain some prominence and credibility since the introduction of Drake Maverick (formerly Rockstar Spud) as its General Manager. One of the reasons for this is that he is taking his job seriously and is using social media to tease new additions to the brand. If Maverick (or should we say, the WWE) is serious about recruiting talent for 205 Live, and WWE is serious about making it flourish, then they should also look outside talent already under contract. One talented wrestler who would greatly improve 205 Live would be Zack Sabre Jr.
He is a dynamic wrestler who has had some solid success and increased his presence worldwide without WWE.
He has previously spurned WWE’s efforts to sign him following the Cruiserweight Classic, but he turns 31 in July. He has been wrestling for over a decade and has a lot of miles on his body, so to speak. He might be tempted to land one big payday before he gets too old, and making an impact on a revitalized 205 Live would be a good way to continue making a name for himself.
12 Released: Dana Brooke
Dana Brooke has been lost in the shuffle in WWE’s women’s division. She was pushed to the main roster probably too quickly, and it showed. Though she looks the part, there are other women who are much better and others knocking on the door in NXT. Brooke is stuck in some weird role as the official statistician for Titus Worldwide.
She really seems to have no real role or purpose, and putting her in Titus Worlwide just feels like some last-ditch effort to use her in some capacity.
When WWE decides to release some talents after WrestleMania season, expect Dana Brooke’s name to be among those released. They are doing nothing significant with her, and WWE will need to make space for new female wrestlers on the main roster.
11 Debuting: Jessamyn Duke And Marina Shafir
Shayna Baszler was the first to sign with WWE in 2017, followed by Ronda Rousey who made her WWE debut at the Royal Rumble in January. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect the other half of UFC’s Four Horsewomen, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir, will make their debuts with WWE in the next few months. There is speculation aplenty that WWE will eventually book a Four Horsewomen match, featuring the UFC Four Horsewomen vs WWE’s own Four Horsewomen. It’s a match that could main event SummerSlam, and is perfect in concept for the Survivor Series, but also a viable main event match for WrestleMania 35 if WWE wants to develop them at NXT for a while. Either way, the WWE Universe should expect to see them appear with the company within the next few months.
10 Released: The Singh Brothers
For a while, The Singh Brothers provided some of the best parts of Jinder Mahal’s matches as champion. They still follow him around and help him cheat to win matches, but their time may soon run its course. Lackeys don’t have a long shelf life in WWE, especially if they can’t viably compete as singles wrestlers. Just ask Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins, who struggled in WWE after they were no longer the Edgeheads.
Since it’s unlikely either of them can compete solo, their only value is tied to accompanying Jinder Mahal.
Soon enough, Mahal will probably either disassociate himself from them or WWE will just suddenly release them without any storyline. Perhaps The Singh Brothers can compete in a tag team division elsewhere, rather than being merely another team lost in the WWE shuffle.
9 Debuting: Rosemary
WWE has nicely improved their women’s roster in recent years, in terms of actual talent and depth. They now have three fairly competitive divisions (Raw, SmackDown, and NXT), each of which has multiple talented wrestlers. Assuming WWE continues to want to expand women’s wrestling and have it taken seriously, adding more quality wrestlers would be something they should look to do.
While there are some waiting for a chance in NXT, Rosemary would be a star who should catch WWE’s attention.
She is a very strong in-ring talent with a very unique look that could make her stand out. Rosemary would be an interesting addition to the Sanity stable but is more than capable as a singles wrestler. Adding Rosemary would probably lead to releases of other women who aren’t quite as talented in the ring, thus strengthening the division.
8 Released: The Colons
Primo and Epico Colon have been with WWE for a lot longer than most people would probably realize, just under different ring names. The Colons are pretty good wrestlers who won’t embarrass themselves on the mic, but they have been lost in the tag team shuffle for quite some time now. It has been a very, very long time since they have been used on TV in a meaningful way, or at all for that matter. Primo was injured a while back but his injury is believed to have healed a bit since then. That Primo and Epico have not made their return to the ring is very suspicious and does not bode well for their future with the company. It would not be a shocker for The Colons to be released in the coming months and for them to try to make bigger names for themselves on the indies.
7 Debuting: Eddie Edwards
You can add Eddie Edwards’ name to a growing list of wrestlers that Impact Wrestling cannot afford to keep. WWE would be a logical landing place for Edwards. He boasts a very impressive wrestling resume so far, and is arguably one of the most decorated wrestlers who has still not worked for WWE.
Even though he has held multiple World Championships with various promotions, WWE may want to ease him into the fold by starting him off at NXT.
At the rate things are going for Impact Wrestling, there will probably be some familiar faces for Edwards if or when he signs with WWE. Eddie Edwards might not be a top star for WWE but, if used properly, could be a valuable asset to the company.
6 Released: Rhyno
Since winning the SmackDown Tag Team Championship with Heath Slater, what exactly has Rhyno accomplished since then? Instead of being used as a veteran, he is seldom used on TV. Those times he does appear, he is frequently jobbed out to other wrestlers. At some point, Rhyno will take his leave from WWE and pursue other interests. Maybe he will follow Kane and decide to enter politics at some point, which is something he is passionate about.
For what it’s worth, Heath Slater once again has no momentum either. While he could be released too, Rhyno probably has much more incentive to want to leave. WWE loves having jobbers, and Slater provides them with that service. Rhyno, on the other hand, is probably more interested in doing other things.
5 Debuting: Toni Storm
Toni Storm competed in WWE’s Mae Young Classic and advanced all the way to the semi-finals, where she was defeated by eventual tournament winner Kairi Sane. WWE was impressed enough with her that they offered her a contract, but she rejected them in favour of continuing her reign as World of Stardom Champion.
Storm is only 22 years old, so WWE likely views her as someone with long-term potential to star in the women’s division for several years.
Storm is very charismatic, has a great personality and is also a very talented wrestler. It seems almost inevitable Storm will sign with WWE eventually, especially factoring in that Storm has the look that makes Vince go crazy. Let’s just hope Triple H can persuade Vince to let Toni refine her already solid ring skills at NXT before pushing her to the main roster.
4 Released: Goldust
Goldust is another veteran wrestler whose tenure with the company seems likely to end in the next few months. He had a decent storyline with R-Truth, who also is likely to leave WWE in 2018, but there is very little for him to do now. WWE did tease an angle between him and Mandy Rose, but she is better off with Absolution and making a name for herself there. After all he has done for WWE, they might give him a spot on the WrestleMania card before releasing him as part of the post-WrestleMania purge. Most of his time with WWE this time around was forgettable, but Goldust is still an iconic WWE legend. It is possible that he will remain with WWE as a trainer or in some other capacity, but it looks like his days as an active wrestler are coming to a close.
3 Debuting: Cody Hall
His Hall of Fame father seems to firmly in WWE’s good graces once again, which makes it much likelier that his son, Cody Hall, will eventually join WWE. The company is not afraid of signing and pushing second-generation talents, for better or worse. The 6’9" Cody Hall has a mixture of size and wrestling ability that will help him win over WWE, but also the WWE Universe.
Hall has paid his dues on the indies already, and has gained experience working with various experienced wrestlers during his time with New Japan Pro Wrestling.
In 2017, he worked mostly tag team matches for Pro Wrestling NOAH. It would not be a surprise to see Cody Hall make an appearance at the WWE Performance Center in the coming months, before making his way up to NXT.
2 Released: Kane
Except for maybe some sort of retirement angle, Kane is probably entering the final months of his time as an active wrestler for WWE. He has mostly been appearing part-time for the past few years, but Kane now has other commitments outside of WWE occupying his time. Most significantly, the real-life Glenn Jacobs is running for Mayor of Knox County.
With an election date of August 2, 2018, Jacobs will certainly want to commit most of his time to his campaign.
Should he get elected, it is unlikely his constituents would be impressed with him appearing on WWE TV and chokeslamming his opponents. At this point, it is very possible Kane gets a final send-off at WrestleMania 34 before he and WWE head their separate ways for now.
1 Debut: Bobby Lashley
You can either look at this as a debut or a return, but whatever way you look at it, we're going to see Bobby Lashley on WWE television shortly after, if not the night after WrestleMania 34. Lashley was among the names Impact Wrestling was unable to re-sign earlier this year and WWE came calling with a contract offer. Reports are that Lashley has signed a deal with WWE and may be working with Brock Lesnar after WrestleMania. With reports of Lesnar considering a UFC return and unlikely to re-sign when his current deal is up, WWE will want a 'legitimate monster' to replace Lesnar when he's gone. Lashley has greatly improved in the ring since he was last in WWE 10 years ago and WWE fans will get to see for themselves very soon.