The glamorous life of traveling and fame doesn’t last forever. WWE employs many wrestlers but there are only so few spots. The competition and depth of talent leads to many unfortunate stories of wrestlers failing to achieve success. For every “Stone Cold” Steve Austin or Hulk Hogan success, there are hundreds of stories like S.D. Jones or Brakkus. WWE will release wrestlers the second they no longer find use for them. The wrestling business is cold and the hard truths of life after WWE can be very scary and unpredictable. Most wrestlers try to continue their careers in the business but it rarely works out.
There are very few alternatives out there for wrestlers to make a living continuing the art and those companies usually only have so few spots open. Some wrestlers can make it in wrestling by marketing themselves and building momentum off the news following their WWE firing but it’s tougher when they have a poor run. The market is supply and demand but wrestlers with negative runs in WWE will find little demand unless they supply entertainment. Most of these wrestlers will have to try to find work in other fields due to this. The only thing for sure is the stories become fascinating to see how the talent bounces back.
While it’s more common for the wrestlers to wallow away in obscurity, the few stories of success are more fulfilling to see them bounce back from WWE failure into a story of redemption. Regardless of if the success comes in wrestling or another form of work, it has to give the wrestler a great feeling to know they climbed an uphill battle to turn their life around. Not all of the stories on this list will feature improvements after flopping in WWE because the long road back can also sink them even lower. The most interesting stories of the lives of wrestlers leaving the company will be showcased with the top 20 “Where Are They Now?” stories for WWE flops.
The WWE career of Festus went down as one of the most disappointing flops in recent history. The big man had a world of potential and was placed in storylines as CM Punk’s enforcer and as Kane’s imposter. That showed the company believed he could step up in a big spot with top talents but the runs all ended in bitter fashion. After a release from WWE, he wrestled as Luke Gallows and built up his name all over the world before becoming a star in Japan. The hot rumors are now that the free agent Gallows will be on his way back to the WWE and will be pushed hard in NXT with tag team partner Karl Anderson.
19 Simon Dean
With a successful run in ECW as Nova, WWE signed Mike Bucci to portray the character of Simon Dean. The gimmick was of an arrogant fitness guru based off infomercials and it was a complete flop. Dean would change back to Nova in a WWE adaption of the ECW faction, the Blue World Order. This was another disaster and Nova was removed from television. He held an office job for a few years before leaving the wrestling business. The former Simon Dean now works as the manager of a Woodforest National Bank branch in Louisville, Kentucky. While he’s removed from the full-time aspect of the business, he still does a few appearances at conventions and the rare independent wrestling show.
18 Vladimir Kozlov
WWE had extremely high hopes for Russian kickboxing and sambo standout Vladimir Kozlov. The big man was pushed immediately and entered a WWE Championship feud with Triple H just a couple of months after his television debut. With the Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards for 2008’s Most Overrated Wrestler and Worst Worked Match, Kozlov failed to become an entertaining in-ring performer and quickly became irrelevant before his eventual release. Since leaving WWE, Kozlov has tried wrestling in Japan but has more so actively pursued an acting career. You can find him in an episode of USA’s Burn Notice but he is still searching for a bigger break.
17 Matt Morgan
Matt Morgan was one of the more highly touted prospects in WWE developmental history. Jim Cornette predicted Morgan would become the most successful big man since The Undertaker. Morgan went on to have multiple runs on television with equally terrible flops. The giant athletic young man could not figure out a way to convert his size into developing an impressive on-screen presence. WWE cut bait and Morgan went on to wrestle for TNA for a few years before leaving the business. Morgan had a child on the way and moved on from the wrestling dream to work for a medical device company.
16 Ricky Ortiz
The ECW brand on WWE television was developed to showcase new talents and put them in a position to create a fan base before moving to Raw or SmackDown. Ricky Ortiz was one of those prospects selected to be on ECW but he was not very impressive. WWE would release Ortiz after a year and he tried to continue his wrestling career for a couple more years before leaving due to lack of interest in him. Ortiz currently works as a trainer and appeared as a hunter on the reality television show Cha$e. Ortiz’s most spectacular accomplishment was recently marrying former WWE diva Layla. The wedding took place in December of 2015 and Ortiz is spending his life with the bombshell.
The concept of Kizarny was supposed to be a mix of Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Doink the Clown. It lived up to neither of those names and was an instant flop that was off television rather quickly. WWE released Kizarny and he’s continued his wrestling career since then with appearances on various indie shows. The most recent action by Kizarny was his creation of Freakshow Wrestling. With the aspect of a traditional wrestling show, it mixes more of a variety act with magicians, rock bands and sideshow performers.
Gene Snitsky was one of many big men to flop in WWE but his worst moments were more memorable for humorous reasons. Snitsky was involved in a storyline that saw him cause a pregnant Lita to lose her unborn child while proclaiming it wasn’t his fault. While it was indeed WWE’s fault, they found no use for Snitsky and released him. On the free agent market, Snitsky occasionally wrestles and his most memorable run was a few shows with TNA as Dixie Carter’s hired henchman. Snitsky has been doing different forms of work including working as a bodyguard for MLB star Alex Rodriguez and trying his luck in the acting world.
13 Chris Masters
With a statuesque physique, Chris Master was introduced to the WWE as someone to pay attention to. Just a few months into WWE debut, Masters wrestled a PPV match against Shawn Michaels and eventually was in an Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship. There was definite hype behind him but after disappointing results and failing a wellness policy test, Masters was on the bench before getting released. Masters is one of the wrestlers to continue his full-time wrestling career by working all over the world and surviving. If Global Force Wrestling ever makes it to television, Masters is scheduled to be a top star in the company.
Rico spent a couple of years in WWE with his main run coming as the manager for Billy and Chuck. The flamboyant personality did most of the talking for the tag teams he worked with and later was repackaged as an in-ring competitor. Much like any wrestler with an inconsistent run in the lower midcard, Rico was eventually released and unable to continue make a living with pro wrestling. The former WWE star became Sergeant Inspector with the Nevada Taxicab Authority but wrestling returned to cause controversy. Video surfaced of Rico working a local independent wrestling show while on “light duty” limitations at his job and it led to his firing. A hearing officer offered Rico his job back and he was back on the duty. Wrestling prevails!
Duane Gill was one of the least intimidating wrestlers of all time but this is what made him the perfect candidate to play Gillberg. The parody character of WCW star Bill Goldberg was one of the funniest things in wrestling at the time. Other than that gimmick with an extremely short shelf life, Gillberg had no place in WWE and quickly was out of the company. He wrestled for years around the country and has a genuine love for the business. This was the perfect combination for Gill to open his own wrestling school “Gillberg's Pro Wrestling Academy” and help train beginners in the world of wrestling.
10 Scotty Goldman
In a time where jobbers are very unusual in WWE, Scotty Goldman was unfortunately a rare breed. The popular independent wrestling star Colt Cabana was a big signing at the time with hopes of achieving success like his best friend CM Punk. Things didn’t work out well for him, as his name was changed to Scotty Goldman and he was being utilized in a way that offered zero chances at upward mobility. Goldman was an instant jobber and released quickly. Since then, he is back to being the Colt Cabana everyone loves and has created great success for himself thanks mostly to his Art of Wrestling podcast. The creation has pioneered the boom of various wrestlers hosting audio shows interviewing their friends and co-workers.
9 Jimmy Wang Yang
Jimmy Wang Yang was one of the most underrated talents in WWE history. Between his time as Tajiri’s henchman Akio and later the cowboy Jimmy Wang Yang, he always delivered good matches but was rarely positioned into a role of relevance. Following his release, Yang entered a couple of unique endeavors. Yang ran a pest control business for a couple of years but he now operates the “Jimmy’s Redneck Party Bus.” For just $200, Yang will drive you around while you and your friends have a good time partying. Most importantly, Yang keeps drunk drivers off the world with this gig.
8 Drew McIntyre
The very talented Drew McIntyre entered WWE with a world of potential and even more expectations. McIntyre was introduced as Vince McMahon’s “chosen one” with the promise of becoming a future world champion by the chairman of the board. After his initial flop with the original push, McIntyre would never get another chance in the upper card and was ultimately let go. Drew has used his firing to rebrand himself and is now one of the most desired wrestlers in the world. Between TNA, PWG, ICW and EVOLVE, you can find him on a show every week delivering a good match. Drew Galloway is one of the best stories of someone flopping in WWE but rebounding to great success.
7 Duke “The Dumpster” Droese
During the time of cartoonish and silly gimmicks, Duke “The Dumpster” Droese was a mainstay on television for a good year. Droese portrayed a garbage man and amplified the stereotypes of the profession to create the character. As you would predict for that gimmick in the era, Droese was out of the company in short time. Following his WWE career, he left the wrestling business for a job in Special Education. The great job was sadly not the most memorable moment of his post-wrestling life as Droese was indicted for selling pain medication illegally on multiple occasions. It’s a shame Droese couldn’t just dump the evidence in his garbage can.
6 Damien Demento
The character of Damien Demento was one of the silliest and most ridiculous gimmicks in WWE history and it led to very little success. Demento’s biggest moment was becoming a trivia answer by participating in the first main event of Monday Night Raw against The Undertaker. Following his wrestling career, Demento furthered his true passion as an artist. Citing it as a passion he held long before his wrestling stint, Demento worked to the point of one of his art pieces getting featured in The New York Times. Demento being a successful artist is a greater swerve than anything he was ever booked in. You’d imagine he takes more pride in this than getting Chokeslammed by The Undertaker.
5 The Berserker
Another silly gimmick that flopped due to the cartoonish idea and ridiculous outfit involved was The Berserker, portrayed by John Nord. The big Viking did not sell himself to win the hearts of wrestling fans but he is able to sell cars in his current life. Nord works at his brother’s car dealership in Michigan. East Nord Motors will feature a gigantic beast of a human being from your wrestling fandom childhood. Many dealerships are fighting to give you the best deal but no other can give you such an offer. The Berserker was a complete flop in WWE but it seems he’s adapted well to his new life and still says hello to old fans at the occasional convention.
The first Tough Enough winner was one of the more interesting stories from the reality show competition to earn a contract. Maven was a likable person and credible athlete so WWE put all their stock into him being a success story to make the show relevant. It did not work. Maven had a few fun moments but he was released. With a couple attempts at continuing his wrestling career, Maven appeared on VH1’s reality show The Surreal Life but lost his life in the spotlight after that. Maven has been working as a bouncer at a New York sports bar for a few years now and is rumored to dislike when wrestling fans spot him.
With a resume of ridiculous moments on WWE television, Mideon delivered many memories for longtime fans. Mideon has dumped pig slop on opponents, was crucified by The Undertaker and ran around the ring wearing nothing but a fanny pack. None of this resulted in him becoming a top star but he has found a great life as a thriving chef these days. After Mideon left WWE, a successful cook took him under his wing and helped Mideon become a good chef. The former Attitude Era star currently runs his own catering business and hopes to impress you with his culinary skills. No word if any pig slop is used in recipes.
Steve Keirn was given the gimmick of an alligator hunter named Skinner when he entered the WWE. Skinner used an alligator claw to harm his opponents and would spit tobacco to portray his bad attitude. The gimmick flopped and he was released by WWE. Keirn continued his career in wrestling for years and has been one of the best trainers in the business. With an experience of running his own school since the 80s, Keirn was given a pivotal position in WWE’s developmental system. At one point, he was the President of FCW and that has carried over to a job with NXT. Keirn is currently a valued trainer for NXT and helps mold the future stars of the WWE.
1 Shawn Stasiak
Shawn Stasiak had one of the most consistent flops in WWE history. As the son of Stan “The Man” Stasiak, many expected he would blossom into a star but instead he played such great gimmicks as a sex slave, a man who ran into walls and an idiot who thought he was his own planet. Stasiak was released with very little success but has had one of the better careers after wrestling. With less pressure attached to his name than in wrestling, Stasiak has become a great chiropractor and runs his own office. Stasiak’s accomplishments training at his job has been highlighted with the Manipulation Under Anesthesia (MUA) from the Academy of Physical and Manual Medicine in New York. Planet Stasiak is not running into walls anymore.