WWE recently released three Superstars; Darren Young, Summer Rae, and Emma. Normally the company likes to make roster cuts after WrestleMania but in 2017, the company opted to make some fall cleaning type moves on October 29th.
For the most part, WWE is signing more talent than they are releasing right now but that doesn't mean they don't need to cut Superstars to make room on the main roster for fresh faces. It does seem odd that WWE would choose to fire two main roster women, as the company is attempting to build their Women's Divisions to the point that they rival the men. To do that, they're going to need a deeper roster and one has to think Emma, and maybe Summer Rae as well, could have had more to contribute to the ongoing women's evolution/revolution.
This isn't to say that any of the recently released Superstars might not end up back in WWE. Both the NXT and WWE Champion at the moment were both released and re-hired in just the last few years. There have been more than a few puzzling WWE releases over the years and this article takes a look at eight of them. We'll also take a look at which seven in which Superstars are probably next on WWE's chopping block.
15 Shocking Release: Shelton Benjamin
Despite being widely regarded as the best natural athlete on the roster, Shelton Benjamin was released from his WWE contract on April 22nd, 2010.
Benjamin was 35 years-old at the time of his release. Wrestlers in their mid-30s are largely considered to be in their prime nowadays, yet still, WWE decided it was time for Benjamin to go. This was a part of the company's post-WrestleMania talent cuts and Benjamin was one of six that were released on this day. Another notable release that occurred on the same day was that of Mickie James. Oddly enough, now in 2017 both Mickie James and Shelton Benjamin are back on the WWE main roster
At the time of his release, WWE may have just felt that Benjamin's time had come. He had been with the company for ten years and on the main roster for eight.
14 Next To Be Released: R-Truth
As soon as somebody tells Vince McMahon that R-Truth will turn 46-year-old in a few months, you can probably expect him to be released. Real name Ron Killings, his pro wrestling career is now 20 years deep. He started on the independent scene from 1997 to 2000 before being picked up by WWE. Killings would be released in 2002, however, after failing to pick up much television time during the early 2000s.
He ended up having a great run in TNA where he even won the NWA Championship on two occasions. WWE would come calling again in 2008, and he's been in the company ever since. Despite his long tenure in the business, his athletic window is coming to a close soon. Don't be surprised if he is wished well in his future endeavors the next time WWE does a round of cuts.
13 Shocking Release: Drew McIntyre
32-year-old Drew McIntyre was once pegged as a future World Champion by Vince McMahon himself. While his future seemed bright, he would be released from his WWE contract on June 12, 2014, despite still only being in his 20s at the time.
McIntyre's release puzzled quite a few people, as he had been a top prospect in the company. He was thrown into the 3MB group, which also featured Jinder Mahal who was later released and rehired as well. Unlike Mahal, however, McIntyre had shown signs during his WWE run that he could be more than a prelim guy.
McIntyre didn't fool around with his time on the independent scene. He became a big star in the growing UK scene and also had a good run with Impact Wrestling. Now NXT Champion, the future once again looks bright for Drew McIntyre
12 Next To Be Released: Dana Brooke
28-year-old Dana Brooke might very well be next on WWE's chopping block. The native of Orlando Florida was a top prospect coming into WWE after making a name for herself on the professional bodybuilding circuit. Vince McMahon loves bodybuilders and someone who looks like Dana Brooke would seemingly always have a bright future in WWE, but that appears to no longer be the case.
Her in-ring work has been described as sloppy, however. This might be the reason why a planned feud between Dana and Charlotte Flair never materialized. Dana had been Charlotte's protégé of sorts, which should have led into a long-term rivalry between the two. While they would have a couple of short matches on Raw, Dana Brooke has never been someone WWE has given too much television time since she's been on the main roster. The writing is probably on the wall for her.
11 Shocking Release: MVP
Hassan Hamin Assad is better-known to wrestling fans as Montel Vontavious Porter a.k.a. MVP. After toiling on the independent scene from 2002 to 2005, he signed a WWE contract and reported to the main roster in 2006. He was labeled as a can't miss prospect both in storyline and behind the scenes but surprisingly would be released just four years later.
It worked out fine for him at the time as he was a big fan of Japanese wrestling and wanted to compete for New Japan Pro Wrestling. He left NJPW a couple of years later and had a short stint with TNA wrestling after that. While he was rumored to be on his way to Lucha Underground in 2016, he never did debut with the promotion.
10 Next To Be Released: Mike & Maria Kanellis
Mike and Maria Kanellis are smart enough to know the gimmick they were given to work with wasn't going to get over. They debuted at the Money in the Bank PPV this year but have become after-thoughts since. It wouldn't be a shocker for them to be released, though some time will need to pass before that can happen.
Maria is now off television and pregnant. She announced on September 25th that she was 13 weeks pregnant. Based on the timing of her announcement, Mike and Maria would have had to conceived their child just one week after their Money in the Bank debut.
In late August, Mike Kanellis also announced he was a recovering painkiller addict. Pregnancies and recovering from drug addictions just so happen to be reasons not to fire someone and instead, take time away and hopefully get repacked upon their return.
9 Shocking Release: Emma
Emma's release wasn't out of the blue, as there may have been some heat on her for promoting the #GiveEmmaAChance hashtag. She's also had chronic shoulder injuries throughout her career, which was probably her undoing with the company.
What makes Emma's release surprising despite her injury problems is her large social media following. Emma hustles on Instagram and Twitter, often posting photos of herself in bikinis or various other skimpy outfits. Considering WWE's love affair with social media these last few years, the idea of them releasing someone as popular online as Emma seems absurd.
She has since removed all reference to Emma or her previous wrestling character on her social media. Now using her real name, Tenille Dashwood, it'll be interesting to see what she does with her post-WWE career.
8 Next To Be Released: Baron Corbin
Earlier this year, Baron Corbin's future looked bright. In fact, even just a few months ago he looked as though he was on his way to becoming a main event performer for the company.
Not long ago, however, rumors of him hijacking a backstage meeting involving WWE doctors talking about the risks of concussions began to surface. He is also believed to have casually mentioned that he is part of an NFL players lawsuit against the league for hiding information in regards to the long-term impacts of concussions during that meeting as well.
Ever since that meeting, Corbin has been losing matches right, left, and center. He unceremoniously lost his Money in the Bank briefcase when he cashed it in unsuccessfully against Jinder Mahal. It appears as though he's not back on the company's good side however, winning the US Title. Though, you've got to believe one more strike can cost him in a big way.
7 Shocking Release: Mr. Kennedy
Nowadays, Ken Anderson, aka Mr. Kennedy, runs a wrestling school with fellow former WWE wrestler, Shawn Daivari. At one time, Kennedy looked to be a future World Champion in WWE, but it wasn't to be.
He was fired in 2009, just days after coming back from an injury. In an interview he would give later, Kennedy claimed the reason he was fired in 2009 was a result of Randy Orton having complained to management that he was dangerous to work with. There is also some speculation that Orton convinced John Cena to also join in on the burying of Kennedy to Vince McMahon. He was picked up by TNA after competing on the independent scene for a little while. Kennedy was later fired from TNA for failing an on-the-spot drug test.
6 Next To Be Released: The Ascension
Former NXT Tag Team Champions, The Ascension, could be next on WWE's chopping block. While the team was popular in NXT, their main roster tenure has been less than impressive. While originally the company hoped they would be a new incarnation of a Road Warriors style tag team, fans never really viewed them in that light.
Currently, Viktor and Konnor are taking part in the Fashion File segments, but when their role in that angle ends, you can expect that their time in the company will too. WWE wants to make room for the Authors of Pain on the main roster and they might just want to get rid of the Ascension in order to do that. It was a long journey to the main roster for each performer, but unfortunately, it will likely end in the near future.
5 Shocking Release: Jim Ross
Jim Ross announced his retirement from WWE in 2013, though it is widely believed he was released from his contract with the company after a rather interesting promotional event for the WWE 2K'14 video game. While he has said that he was not intoxicated during the event, some have said that he appeared to be so. Ric Flair was also at the event and was, in fact, quite drunk.
After his "retirement", Ross picked up various different commentary gigs including calling boxing for Golden Boy Promotions, the Battlegrounds MMA one-night tournament and he also provided commentary for New Japan Pro Wrestling.
WWE signed Ross to a new contract just before WrestleMania 33 this year, allowing the legendary announcer to call the night's main event between Undertaker and Roman Reigns.
4 Next To Be Released: Tamina
39-year-old Tamina Snuka has to be on her way out of the company sooner rather than later. At this point, she is just too old to be considered someone who might be a valuable part of the Women's Division in the future. Tamina has always been a background character since debuting on the main roster seven years ago. She served as AJ Lee's bodyguard and as a rather forgotten member of Team BAD. Despite being in the company for seven years, she's never won a championship and, in fact, has never really been in the running to do so.
Tamina looks big and intimidating, but obviously, the company has no faith in her in-ring work. If they did she would've been given more chances than she has been. Unfortunately for her, Tamina won't survive the next round of cuts.
3 Shocking Release: Daniel Bryan
WWE released Daniel Bryan from his contract four days after airing a controversial angle where members of the Nexus took over Raw and destroyed the set. During the angle, Bryan choked ring announcer, Justin Roberts, with his own tie. Evidently, the choking of a person with their own tie crosses a line for several of WWE's sponsors and the company announced they had fired Bryan on June 11th, 2010.
Bryan would later say the company apologized to him when they let him go, stating that had it not been for their sponsors, things would have been different. He would spend that summer wrestling for smaller promotions, such as Chikara and Evolve.
WWE re-hired Bryan that August and he was announced as the surprise seventh man of WWE's team that was facing the Nexus at SummerSlam.
2 Next To Be Released: Rhyno
At 42 years of age, Rhyno's athletic window is closing. At the moment, his tag team with Heath Slater isn't exactly lighting the world on fire either, though the pair were the inaugural Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
Rhyno's original run with the company didn't last very long. He debuted with WWE in 2001 and was released by 2005. He ended up having a long run in TNA Wrestling as well and a couple of years in the Ring of Honor.
He was brought back to WWE in 2015 originally just to help out on the NXT roster but was later brought up to the main roster. If he remains on the roster for another two years his latest run with the company will end up out-lasting his first run.
1 Shocking Release: CM Punk
Granted, when news finally broke that WWE had released CM Punk, the writing had been on the wall for some time. Punk hadn't been on television for some time and it was widely believed he was done with the company.
Punk didn't appear on the Monday Night Raw following the 2014 Royal Rumble and word started to leak that he and the company were seriously at odds with one another. We'd find out from Punk later that he received his termination papers the same day he married his current wife, AJ Brooks. The bad blood has continued since the shocking departure, and chances of a return seem unlikely. Punk has since stated he is burnt out from the wrestling business and is now focusing on his MMA career.