Sometimes the WWE pushes a superstar to the moon, but conversely also buries some wrestlers who worked hard to make it to the company. The number of failures in WWE is definitely more than those who've achieved success. Everyone knows that Vince McMahon has a fetish for brawny wrestlers but surprisingly, even some wrestlers who have similar attributes to Vince’s fantasies fail to make their mark in the WWE and slowly find their way out of the company. We’ve seen over the years so many wrestlers from other promotions come into the company like hot cakes only to have the taste taken out of them, as they’re mostly left to go back to the independent promotions where they made a name for themselves.
Recently, we saw WWE fire some of their personnel, with Damien Sandow and Wade Barrett being the most prominent names out of the bunch. Sandow proved time and time again to be an entertainer like no other, while Barrett showed signs of being a top star, but WWE dropped the ball with these two and it wound up labeling their careers as a failures in the WWE. Many stars, like these two, have been treated like this by the company, where you not only need wrestling talent, but other "attributes" as well in order to stay relevant in the long run and many wrestlers don’t have that potential. After being released by the company, these wrestlers mostly have to go back to performing for under-paying promotions and some, who have some educational background, even decide to take a different route in their careers. Some of them use their popularity to get into the real estate business, others become teachers, while some even try out their acting skills in Hollywood, but mostly the wrestlers who leave the WWE remain confined to the squared circle. Here we take a look at some of these wrestlers who failed in the WWE, and what they’re doing now.
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40 Colt Cabana (then)
Perhaps best known as the friend of CM Punk, Colt Cabana was a hot property on the independent circuit and Ring of Honor before he rose the WWE ranks through their developmental program at Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW) and was introduced as Scotty Goldman on the main roster. He mostly jobbed to prominent stars and featured in battle royals, with his only shining light being the show he got on WWE.com called Good as Goldman. However, he was fired less than a year after his main roster debut and quickly returned to the independent scene.
39 Colt Cabana (now)
As mentioned, after departing from the WWE, Cabana went back to the indy circuit. He also started his own wrestling podcast called The Art of Wrestling with Colt Cabana. This podcast achieved new heights in 2014 through his controversial interview with CM Punk, who himself had departed WWE, and who had some nasty things to say about the company. Today, Cabana’s podcast has 75,000 downloads per episode with some prominent wrestlers being featured on it, while Cabana is continuing to enjoy a successful outing on the independent circuit as well.
38 Marc Mero (then)
Marc Mero had quite a prominent beginning to his WWE career as he received the "Wildman" gimmick and won the Intercontinental Championship soon after debuting for the company. He then lost it to Triple H in a storyline involving his manager and real-life wife, Sable, and it was all down hill from there. Mero would get injured and return after several months with a heel persona, but he was put into angles with Sable herself (including a match), before working with Jacqueline as his manager. He would job to Duane Gill (better known as Gillberg) before being released in 1999.
37 Marc Mero (now)
Marc Mero has had an incredible change of careers, as he transitioned from being a professional wrestler to being a motivational speaker who "brings faith" to those in need of it. He has also started his own non-profit organization called Champion of Choices and is hired by many schools and public bodies to influence their citizens and "lead people to Christ". He attributed intense drug abuse for him changing as a person, and wants to lead people into more positive lives.
36 The Wolves (then)
Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards are one of the most exciting, hard-hitting tag teams in the wrestling world right now and years after making a name for themselves in ROH, they decided to try out for WWE NXT in 2013. Their try-out lasted a week and featured a non-tile match against The Ascension, who were the NXT Tag Team Champions at the time, but they we’re rejected after it. Richards would go on to state how he never wanted to go there and they headed to TNA to have much success.
35 The Wolves (now)
After being turned down by the WWE and joining TNA, the Wolves went on to have five TNA World Tag Team Championship reigns and they are currently two of the hottest prospects in TNA. However, they are looking to get off of this sinking ship and they’ve announced that they aren’t taking indy bookings after June 1st. Could this mean that they’re finally getting snapped up by the WWE, as they’ve impressed Triple H since their weak try-out? We'll have to wait and watch.
34 Matt Morgan (then)
"The Blueprint" Matt Morgan was first introduced in WWE on their reality show Tough Enough, but he had to leave because of an injury. He would rise through the OVW developmental program and get a main roster debut on SmackDown before joining Team Lesnar for a 2003 Survivor Series Elimination match against Team Angle. He would play with the "big boys" for some time but then got a new gimmick which would ruin his WWE career. He’d be fired soon after before going on to have a prominent, long career in TNA.
33 Matt Morgan (now)
Morgan had two TNA World Tag Team Championship reigns and wrestled for the company from 2007 to 2013. After calling it quits with TNA and wrestling in general, Morgan announced that he had joined on as a regional manager for a "big time medical device" company which would usher in a new chapter in his life, while he and his wife gave birth to a son, Jackson Morgan. He has often expressed his continued love of wrestling and hasn't rule out returning for some events. In fact, he briefly returned to TNA in 2015 for one match so that his son could watch him wrestle, but he is mostly happy being a family man right now.
32 Kenny Omega (then)
Though not exactly a part of the WWE, Kenny Omega was snatched up by the company to work for their developmental program, Deep South Wrestling, in 2005. He agreed to work on a full-time basis and his time in Deep South Wrestling was mostly filled with tag team skirmishes while he never really got an opportunity to shine as a singles competitor. He’s often expressed his dismay at his time at DSW and has criticized then promoter Bill DeMott and trainer Bob Holly.
31 Kenny Omega (now)
Right now Omega is a man on top of the world as he is the leader of The Bullet Club, one of the most infamous and menacing factions in the wrestling world. He has stated that he turned down offers made by the WWE to sign him, as his charismatic behavior has given The Bullet Club a new look after the departure of former leader, AJ Styles. Omega, along with the Young Bucks, are ruling the independent scene in Japan right now, making them extremely valuable men to any promotion.
30 Rick Steiner (then)
Renowned for being part of one of the most technically gifted tag teams of all time, along with crazy brother Scott, Rick Steiner was maybe the better wrestler among the brothers as they dominated the wrestling tag team division for a long time. They were not treated that well by the WWE, where they spent only two years in the early 90s, but they won the tag team titles twice in those years. They left feeling that Vince McMahon wasn’t following up on promises made to the team, before going on to have stints in WCW, ECW and even TNA.
29 Rick Steiner (now)
In 2004, Rick tried his hand in the real estate business and fully committed himself to the business after leaving TNA in 2008, although he made a couple of wrestling appearances alongside his brother in 2013. He is currently employed with Rick Steiner and Associates at Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage. He is also a board member of the Cherokee County School District where he was elected in 2006.
28 Buff Bagwell (then)
A prominent mid-carder for the WCW, Buff Bagwell made quite a name for himself during his stint at the company as he won the WCW tag titles five times in his career. He would be one of the first WCW wrestlers to join the WWE after it had taken over WCW and had a body likely to impress Vince McMahon. He would work a dark match against Booker T on July 1, 2001 for the WCW title, but the match would be disrupted by attacks from "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Kurt Angle. He would then be fired on July 9, 2001 for having a negative attitude and also allegedly faking an injury in his last match.
27 Buff Bagwell (now)
After his departure from WWE, Bagwell made several appearances in TNA and on the independent scene before his wrestling career faded into the darkness. After that, Bagwell began using his well-toned body for a completely different purpose and profession. He is now a certified male escort, working for a company named Cowboys4Angels. He himself confessed to being one in an interview in 2014, and he is also a happily married man who’s enjoying life outside of the wrestling business.
26 Lance Storm (then)
A good friend of Chris Jericho, Lance Storm rose through the independent ranks alongside Y2J and would follow him into stints at ECW, WCW and then finally to the grandest stage of them all - WWE. He would be given the "anti-American" gimmick during his WWE run, where he was an attraction in the tag team division while Jericho went to greater heights in his singles run. Storm would get an Intercontinental Championship run, but would retire from in-ring action shortly thereafter, opting to have a backstage position in the WWE till leaving the company in 2005 to return to the indy circuit.
25 Lance Storm (now)
After returning in 2009 for a small stint with ROH, he would then move onto smaller promotions, working lesser dates and focusing on writing his own book called Storm Warning which would be published as an e-book in 2011. Storm would also open his own wrestling school named "Storm Wrestling Academy" in Calgary, Canada. Storm is currently a writer of a weekly column for a wrestling/MMA publication, Fighting Spirit Magazine, and has made appearances on podcasts and on a TV show called World of Hurt in 2011.
24 Shawn Stasiak (then)
The son of Stan "The Man" Stasiak, who was a prominent WWE champion in the 70s, Shawn Stasiak didn’t really get his father’s fortunes as he debuted as Meat, a "boy-toy" for the Pretty Mean Sisters. He would soon get downgraded to a jobber, before being fired in 1999 for recording a heated conversation without permission. After a stint at WCW, he’d return to the company in 2001 as part of “The Alliance’’ before being "fired". He would then portray the gimmick of a comically insane wrestler from "Planet Stasiak" before being granted his release in 2002.
23 Shawn Stasiak (now)
After a disastrous wrestling career, Stasiak would become a full-time chiropractor and would receive a certificate in manipulation under anesthesia from the Academy of Physical and Manual Medicine in New York. He currently works for the Advanced Comprehensive Team based out of Texas. Besides his career as a chiropractor, Stasiak also works as a motivational speaker to give speeches in public schools. Stasiak has expressed a desire to return to the squared circle as a 2015 video showed him training and talking about his dream to make him and his father the first father and son pair to ever win the WWE Championship.
22 Gangrel (then)
Gangrel was undoubtedly one of the most disturbing/scariest wrestlers of all time in the WWE, being the head of the infamous The Brood faction, who covered all of their enemies in blood baths, alongside Edge and Christian. Gangrels’ highest point was with The Brood, as he became a mid-carder after its break-up and would be fired because of weight problems. He would come back years later for some matches, but would be fired for keeping his shirt unbuttoned. Yeah, that happened.
21 Gangrel (now)
After his wrestling career went down the drain, Gangrel would make a very odd career decision as he decided to direct vampire pornographic films. Gangrel is still wrestling in a promotion called North American Wrestling with the gimmick of a "Vampire Warrior". He signed on to direct 12 films for the New Porn Order, with his debut being named Miami Rump Shakerz 2. Gangrel has made a couple of brief WWE appearances over the last two years: first appearing at Rikishi's 2015 Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and then recently showing up on an episode of the Edge & Christian Show on the WWE Network.
20 EC3 (then)
Going by the name of Derrick Bateman in WWE, EC3 would be signed to a developmental contract and he first competed in FCW before transitioning to NXT. He would be the rookie of mentor Daniel Bryan in his NXT days and would also get his WWE main roster debut against Ryback in a crushing job effort. He would go back to the revamped NXT as part of some tag team bouts and weird romantic angles until returning to SmackDown, only to lose his returning matches as well. Between jumping from losses in NXT and SmackDown, he was released by the WWE in mid-2013.
19 EC3 (now)
WWE’s loss would be TNA’s gain, as EC3 would be introduced as Dixie Carter’s (kayfabe) nephew, Ethan Carter III, and slowly become the best thing about the failing TNA. He’s now the proverbial face of the sinking ship and because of contract issues is working independent events as well. Recently Carter made news as he "invaded" an EVOLVE Wrestling show (financed by the WWE) and thrashed Triple H and NXT and complained about the product's downsides. It doesn’t seem like he’s getting re-hired by the WWE anytime soon.
18 Terry Funk (then)
Having wrestled for a mammoth number of wrestling promotions all over the world and renowned for being the toughest hardcore wrestler, along with good friend Mick Foley, Terry Funk had some stints in the WWE as well. He debuted way back in 1985, and he battled Hulk Hogan in some WWE title matches. He departed in '86, but would return in '97, teaming up with Foley as part of the tag team "Charlie and Jack", feuding with the New Age Outlaws. He would have some extreme matches during his WWE career, before having another stint in the WWE’s version of ECW in 2006.
17 Terry Funk (now)
Infamous for his unreal number of "retirement matches" and comebacks in wrestling, Terry Funk wrestled even up until last year against Jerry "The King" Lawler at an independent event and advertises these promotions very enthusiastically. He would return to the WWE in 2009 with brother Dory Funk Jr to induct his good friend, Dusty Rhodes, into the WWE Hall of Fame. He also appeared on WWE television recently "gifting" Dean Ambrose his chainsaw for Ambrose's WrestleMania match against Brock Lesnar.
16 Shane Douglas (then)
A hardcore specialist himself, Shane Douglas would debut in the WWE in 1990, during which he had a memorable Royal Rumble performance, lasting 26 minutes and 23 seconds. He would leave to tend to his ailing father, but returned in 1995 as a "college dean" character. He would win the Intercontinental Championship from Shawn Michaels, who had to vacate it after an injury, with his reign lasting only eleven minutes. Months later he would leave the WWE, becoming a key figure in ECW’s rise in popularity.
15 Shane Douglas (now)
After retiring from wrestling, Douglas would become a promoter for the Xtreme Pro Wrestling promotion, trying to recreate his own version of ECW by moving to Philadelphia and hiring some former ECW guys. He would try to recreate many of ECW’s memorable pay-per-views. In 2014, he announced that he would be opening a brand new wrestling promotion under his control. Outside of his wrestling career, Douglas would become a part-time motivational speaker and produced a game called Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies.
14 Diamond Dallas Page (then)
Another prominent member of the WCW to migrate to the WWE after their ship sank, DDP debuted as a psychopathic character to take out the "WWE guys". After the invasion angle unfolded, he would be given the gimmick of "Positive Page", under which he’d win the WWE European Title in 2002. He didn't get much of a push beyond that and soon he’d leave the company amid neck problems due to an injury suffered in a match against Hardcore Holly, and would soon retire from wrestling indefinitely.
13 Diamond Dallas Page (now)
While dealing with injuries in 1998, DDP would develop a yoga program named Yoga for Regular Guys Workout showing the health benefits of yoga while recovering from injuries. He would also publish a book, Yoga for Regular Guys, in 2005 and in 2012 would transition those books into workout videos titled DDP Yoga. His Yoga is highly successful, as he helped good friend Scott Hall to get rid of his drug problems. DDP would return to the WWE in some one-off appearances in the Royal Rumble and recently in the Andre the Giant memorial battle royal at WrestleMania.
12 Awesome Kong (then)
Awesome Kong was quite the monster on the independent circuit, having some valuable years in Japan before moving to TNA where she would become an unstoppable monster heel. After dominating everyone there, she would move to the WWE in 2011 and vignettes would indicate a similar monster heel persona being brought to the WWE under the name Kharma. She would make her debut at that year’s Extreme Rules and made continuous vicious attacks on other divas. However, some weeks later, she would break down on live TV, revealing that she was pregnant and had to take a hiatus. She would return at the 2012 Royal Rumble, making her the third woman ever to wrestle in the event, after Chyna and Beth Phoenix, but would part ways with the company soon after.
11 Awesome Kong (now)
After her final appearance in WWE, Kong revealed that she had lost her baby prior to giving birth and expressed a desire to start a foundation for women who had gone through similar tragedies. She also went back to TNA for another stint at the company, but would be fired after a backstage altercation with another TNA knockout, Reby Sky. Kong is now semi-retired from wrestling, enjoying her married life with husband Dan Ouellette. She would reveal how she was on a quest to lose some weight and recent pictures have confirmed her success at that, as this terrorizing figure is now quite happy.
10 Sabu (then)
A phenomenal athlete who had the appetite for the hardcore, Sabu would hold out from WWE until very late into his career when he’d debut at the 2006 ECW One Night Stand PPV against Rey Mysterio in an amazing match. He would be an attraction for the WWE version of ECW which kicked off in the same year and would get a WWE title opportunity against John Cena which he lost. He would later be fined for violating WWE’s Wellness Policy and then moved to the tag team division where he wrestled in some extreme tag team matches till his release in 2007.
9 Sabu (now)
After less than a year at WWE, Sabu would return to his beloved independent circuit and wrestle for many a promotion and put his body on the line to give some death-defying stunts despite being over 40-years-old. He’s quite a hot-head and has been part of some shoot wrestling in his career and was thrashed for his drug problems in 2015. He wrestled Rob Van Dam in 2015 in an indy event and continues to defy the laws of aging and put on spectacles.
8 Dean Malenko (then)
Called "The Iceman" for his cold and calculative demeanour, Dean Malenko was one of the best talents to come out of WCW as he was also known as "The Man of 1,000 holds" for his impeccable wrestling ability. He would enjoy a great career in WCW before coming to the WWE along with Chris Benoit, Perry Saturn and Eddie Guerrero to form "The Radicalz". This group would enjoy some success, but as Eddie and Chris moved onto bigger things, Malenko was moved to the cruiserweight division before being given a gimmick of a parody of James Bond. He would get into some bizarre angles showing himself as a lecher and all his wrestling talent would go down the drain. He would go on to retire soon after.
7 Dean Malenko (now)
Malenko is now a road agent for the WWE, who measures the timing of matches and makes sure everything goes according to plan. In 2010, he suffered a heart attack while on tour with the WWE but was back soon after. His heart problems would persist in another case of chest pains in 2013. He rarely appears on WWE TV, but appeared as part of the "Four Horsemen" in 2008 in Ric Flair’s farewell tribute. Malenko was inducted in the Hardcore Hall of Fame in 2015, with many wrestlers, including Daniel Bryan, calling him their idol.
6 Jeff Jarrett (then)
Renowned for being a dirty wrestler who used his infamous guitar to screw over his opponents, Jeff Jarrett was actually given this gimmick during his WWE career where he debuted in 1993 as a heel. He’d be a strong mid-carder for the company, winning the Intercontinental title until he left for a year in WCW. He’d return again in 1997 and reunited with Debra and used her to become a slimy heel in the mid-card. He was never pushed to the top where he felt he belonged and in 1999 he would be fired by the WWE after he extorted them for more money.
5 Jeff Jarrett (now)
After leaving WWE and WCW years later, Jarrett co-founded his own wrestling promotion, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, with father Jerry, and the company saw massive rise in popularity in the following years with Jarrett becoming the top heel of the company, screwing others over with that guitar. However, soon he lost control over TNA with Dixie Carter stepping in, and would call it quits with the company in 2014 to open another wrestling promotion, Global Force Wrestling. He’s now the booker and owner of the company which he’s trying to link with TNA in order to provide a better future for both promotions.
4 Lex Luger (then)
Having the muscular body which Vince McMahon craves, Lex Luger was pushed to become the next Hulk Hogan after the Hulkster left the company in 1993. Luger, who didn’t really have much wrestling ability, and the WWE were thwarted for pushing him to the moon by fans of that era, as extreme backlash denied him winning the World Title from Yokuzuna at SummerSlam. He wasn’t exactly buried, as he’d get another title shot later on but would be disqualified in the actual match, and would soon be downgraded to the mid-card and then be released.
3 Lex Luger (now)
Luger would reunite with the WWE in 2011 and he now works for them on their Wellness Policy and works towards the prevention of drug use or other influential content among the wrestlers. He also has his own non-profit charity company called World Wrestling Outreach with friend and fellow NWA wrestler, Nikita Koloff, as the wrestler is now a born-again Christian. In 2013 he would release his own book called Wrestling with the Devil: The True Story of a World Champion Professional Wrestler – His Reign, Ruin, and Redemption with the forward being written by Sting.
2 Goldberg (then)
If you were to ask any wrestling fan of the late 90s or early 2000s about Bill Goldberg, they’d term him to be one of the bests of the time. He was insanely popular during his heyday in WCW, having an undefeated streak of 173 wins and even defeating the mighty Hulk Hogan and other top wrestlers to assert his dominance. His WWE reign would start out strongly as he was billed as a similar, mighty wrestler and even won the WWE World Title once in his short two years in the company. However, after a WrestleMania match against Brock Lesnar, Goldberg would leave the company to head in another direction.
1 Goldberg (now)
After leaving wrestling, Goldberg would become a color commentator for an MMA promotion called World Fighting Alliance. He would also try his hand in Hollywood, making appearances in movies like The Longest Yard. Goldberg was also a part of The Celebrity Apprentice in 2010. He is an animal welfare advocate and also co-owns a Muay Thai Gym in California. Goldberg is also a car enthusiast and in 2014 started his own podcast "Who’s Next With Bill Goldberg". He returned to the squared circle in a Legends of Wrestling event last year, and has indicated he could return to the WWE for a one time only event if the price and stage is right.
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