Whether they're getting booed or they're getting cheered, a wrestler craves that attention because they know that it keeps fans coming back for more. But then there's silence or the so-called "X-Pac Heat," where the fans don't care and/or are just tired of you. When that starts happening to your career you might want to start checking the wanted ads. Sometimes, even with the crowd reacting to you, they're just not reacting enough and you wind up finding yourself future endeavored.
What happens to a wrestler that's been released by the WWE? Up until 2001, there were two other viable career options in the United States for a wrestler to go to - WCW or ECW. Then we're was Japan. Nowadays, you still can go to Japan, and you do have options like Ring of Honor or TNA. But those two promotions don't have nearly the exposure of the former, and based on their current state, there's no guarantee that TNA will still be standing by year's end.
For the most part, when a talent gets released these days with no place to go to maintain their exposure, it's hard for them to regain their spot and head back to the WWE, baring that they didn't scorch their standings with the company or that they even want to go back. But many of the names that have left or have been released have faded or are slowly fading into obscurity in the U.S. There are a few names that are making a name for themselves in Japan, with the exception of that select few; here are the top 20 recent wrestlers we've already forgotten.
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21 Ricky Ortiz
It would take about seven years after the fall of the XFL, but our first entry, Ricky Ortiz is actually the only XFL player to make the jump to the WWE. Besides that useless bit of trivia, there's simply not much more to report on the former ECW talent. Mostly undefeated on that brand, Ortiz would make the jump to Smackdown in 2009, and as a heel, he fared far worse, jobbing out to the likes of Jeff Hardy and the Great Khali before getting released to the independents in August of 2009.
20 C.J. Parker
Surprisingly CJ Parker’s name cleared copyright. But it’s highly doubtful anyone would remember the Earth–loving NXT superstar more than they’d remember the real CJ Parker, played by Pamela Anderson on Baywatch. Parker is an instance of a guy being forgotten while he’s in the company before he even asked for his release. A modern day Barry Horrowitz, Parker was part of FCW. In NXT, he debuted a hippy character and turned heel. Despite several wins, Park unfortunately, continued to job out to other up–and–comers. Seeing no success in site, Parker asked for his release in April 2015.
19 Mason Ryan
Certainly fans remember and occasionally love Bautista, but does anyone remember "Faux-tista?" Mason Ryan came in as part of C.M. Punk's Nexus, it's heavy hitter to be exact. He debuted shortly after the New Nexus got together, making the group a quartet, but that was about it for the hulking Welshman. An injury would sideline him, and Punk becoming the biggest star in wrestling sidelined the whole Nexus. The former FCW Champion was sent back to developmental and had a feud with the Realest Guys in the Room before being released in 2014.
18 Ezekiel Jackson
There was a moment in time where it seemed Ezekial Jackson was being primed for greatness. Part of the Nexus offshoot, the Corre, the former Intercontinental champion might not have been super over with the fans, but he was getting over and it seemed like creative and more importantly, Vince McMahon were behind the behemoth. But then creative decided they couldn't figure out where or who to place him with and Jackson wound up on the Future Endeavored line, his time brief, but forgettable sans being the second man to say they were the last ECW champion.
17 Curt Hawkins
Not that his former partner, Zack Ryder is doing any better but at least fans will remember him, thanks in small part to Ryder's own tireless efforts on YouTube. No disrespect meant to Hawkins, but he seems to have been content with accepting his place on the roster, collecting checks until someone realized he still worked for WWE and released him. That "I'm Shawn, He's Marty" shirt the pair have worn before? While Ryder is far from Shawn level, he will be remembered for his tireless efforts to get himself over. Welcome to Martywood, population–Curt Hawkins.
16 Brodus Clay
The vignettes promised us that the former second of Alberto Del Rio would be a big, monster heel the likes we haven't seen since King Kong Bundy. Vince apparently didn't want the original version of Clay, and gave us a dancing fool instead. But as rip off of Rikishi, the guy was fairly DOA, barely over with the kiddies. Brief and pointless pairings with Tenzai, Funkadactycls, and Xavier Woods, along using a ripoff of the Cat's theme showed just how much WWE wanted Brodus to get over and summarily, just how much they were failing. Now he's Tyrus in TNA, but we all know the unfortunate sinking ship that is.
15 Shelton Benjamin
One half of the World's Greatest Tag Team should, could, and will be on the top of many of the Best Wrestler lists. But as far as his WWE career goes, Shelton Benjamin could never gain much traction in finding his niche. One of the best pure athletes period was never treated as the Gold Standard he was branded as and he too found himself on the bread lines. Luckily not for long though–reunion with Charlie Haas in ROH, and now part of GFW, Benjamin might be the only guy on this list to turn his obscurity back into familiarity.
14 Cryme Tyme
JTG and Shad Gaspard might have been doing really good right now as the WWE brings back its tag team division back from the brink. But they unfortunately debuted in an era where tag teams just didn't matter. Plus the guys were a walking parody of black culture, and even had a disclaimer before vignettes to explain that fact. As soon as you have to explain what a vignette is supposed to be about, you failed in getting over, just because you didn't want to risk offending part of your audience. A heel turn by Shad didn't do anything to reinvigorate either of their runs and nowadays, besides accusing the Prime Time Players for stealing their gimmick, Cryme Tyme now trails the Indy scene looking for work.
Before the divas revolution started, Kaitlyn along with several other divas were part of the third season of NXT. Kaitlyn actually won the whole season, too. But while the current Divas are working their keisters off to show they're just as good as the men, when Kaitlyn was around, the division was in a true state of flux. Legends like Trish and Lita were gone, so too were the Playboy models, and it was before Total Divas, so it left a lot of ladies without a lot to do except fill air time with skimpy clothing. Kaitlyn, along with AJ, Natalya, and Beth Phoenix, tried their damnedest to make a change, but unfortunately they were a few years too early.
12 Corey Graves
Corey Graves was one half of the NXT champions with Adrian Neville. Well on his way to a spot on the main roster, the very capable wrestler was unfortunately sidelined with an injury, ending Graves' career before it started. As chronicled on the E:60 documentary, Graves was right on the cusp of being bumped up to the main roster when the injury happened. He was offered a spot as an announcer and since then he also hosts two shows on the Network; Culture Shock and Superstar Ink. As a part of the NXT announce team and the PPV pregame shows, Graves is currently the best heel announcer since the days of Jessie Ventura.
11 Evan Bourne
If Neville is the New Sensation, then Evan "Air" Bourne would be the old one. As someone who could have benefited greatly from being a part of NXT, Bourne was a few years too early. Being paired with Mark Henry and a then-still-finding-his-own-footing Kofi's Kingston (the ridiculously named Air Boom) didn't do the aerialist any favors either. Sadly, Bourne's biggest contribution to the business was being on the receiving end of one the sickest RKOs ever as Orton nailed him coming out of the Shooting Star Press.
10 The Masterpiece Chris Masters
If being the Vince McMahon hard body prototype doesn't get you over, nothing will. If being a real life mom saving superhero doesn't get you rehired and pushed for the sake of great PR, again nothing will. Chris Masters has the charisma of mustard, but even he can't be blamed fully for his failings in WWE. The guy was saddled with a reboot of Lex Luger's Narcissist character, and the ever painful and painfully boring looking Full Nelson as his finisher. Other than being part of the Elimination Chamber that Edge cashed in on, Masters didn't do much else. Instead of becoming a world renowned personal trainer, Masters is still pursuing a career in wrestling; you have to give the guy credit for trying at least.
Also part of the Elimination Chamber in 2006 was Carlito. He and Masters seemingly were being groomed for starting top guy runs. But time would show that both superstars were nothing more than filler. You would think the son of legend Carlos Colon would have gotten a better shot. But when that didn't happen, the contempt bred a bad attitude and violations of the WWE's Wellness Policy led to Carlito's released. He hasn't been seen on WWE TV since, except for inducting his father into the Hall of Fame. Carlito headed back home to his family’s WWC promotion.
8 Drew McIntyre
Guys like Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, and the Rock have taken Vince McMahon's blessing as the Chosen One and ran with it. But when Vince actually came out to declare Drew McIntyre the Chosen One, it might have squashed his career before it even started. A barely there career saw McIntyre win a few different titles, however, this was during a time where the belts didn't mean much on either show. When his run turned to comedy as a member of 3MB, the writing was on the wall and in June 2014, McIntyre was released.
7 Luke Gallows
When he was Festus, Luke Gallows would hear the ring bell, go insane and destroy his opponents. Then he joined CM Punk and it was revealed that Gallows was being constantly kept on drugs. The Straight Edge Society was supposed to Punk’s crowning achievement and make new stars like Gallows. But we all know that didn’t happen, leaving Gallows with an uneventful WWE career. Gallows would head to TNA to be part of the never–ending Aces and Eights angle before finding his true niche in New Japan as part of the Bullet Club.
6 Bobby Lashley
With an MMA background, the rocket strapped on him and hot angle at WrestleMania 23, Bobby Lashley was another one of Vince's quintessential stars that looked the part of a Superstar. Unfortunately, when he opened his mouth, Lashley's voice was more mouse than man. A good mouthpiece might have helped propel Lashley to the next level and we'd still be watching him compete in the WWE today. With his push deflated and a desire to head back to MMA, Lashely said goodbye to the WWE. He has since resurfaced in TNA, but his commitment to his MMA career will keep him from reaching the apex of the sports entertainment.
5 Kassius Ohno
For the most part, every big name that ever came out of Ring of Honor has landed in the WWE. But none more depressing (for fans) than Chris Hero, who arrived to WWE developmental as Kassius Ohno. Besides the possibility of rekindling his wars with CM Punk, with all the nonsense about Cesaro not being over, you could have reunited the Kings of Wrestling and truly had a tag team revolution. Instead of ever calling Ohno up to the main roster, he was released before he ever truly got started; his only claim to WWE fame was being a talking head on Punk's documentary.
4 David Hart Smith
Another victim of the who cares about tag teams era is D.H. Smith or Harry Smith or David Hart Smith or whatever the heck WWE wanted to call the guy. He and cousin–in–law Tyson Kidd had every possible tool in their arsenal to single (double?) handily bring the tag team scene back to prominence. Had the son of the British Bulldog plus the final Dungeon graduate and Hart family friend Kidd be given the titles for a good long run and had a couple of marquee feuds, maybe DH would have stuck around, but instead he was released and opted to head to Japan, where has been tearing it up with Lance Archer as the Killer Elite Quad ever since.
Anyone that forgets a beauty like Aksana might need to get their eyes examined. But considering that she was placed with Vince McMahon’s "favorite" wrestler Cesaro, perhaps he didn't see anything in her either. Aksana was a member of the all-female NXT season and had a fake wedding with Goldust, otherwise she would have been deported back to Lithuania. Besides pairing with Cesaro on the main roster, Aksana was doing the dirty work for Eve Torres and teamed up with Alicia Fox as the duo, Foxana before being let go in early 2014.
2 Ted DiBiase Jr.
The idea of Legacy was a great one. Take the sons of wrestling legends and stick them together as a stable. Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes, and Ted DiBiase were the original me,bees of the group and for most of their run, the only three. But that's where Ted Jr's glory days in the ring ended. Whereas Orton is better than both his father and grandfather and Cody has forged his own star(dust) making path, Ted didn't have one iota of the charisma needed to be a superstar. Runs with Maryse and making him a "Fortunate Son" poor ripoff of his dad did him no favors and Ted would say goodbye to wrestling almost as quick as he came in.
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