In 1952, Toots Mondt and Jess McMahon founded a wrestling promotion that is now known as the WWE, and neither of one of them probably thought that their little project would become the biggest wrestling promotion in the world. The billion-dollar company has been the pinnacle of the professional wrestling world for decades now, all thanks to Vince McMahon and his ability to create truly iconic characters. We have seen the likes of Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and John Cena revolutionize the entire industry, but at the end of the day, those individuals, as well as every other superstar who has entertained us over the years, are just employees.
When you include every single cameraman, designer, and technician, the WWE employs roughly 800 people, and although every single person plays an important role, it is the 50-or-so wrestlers who are the most important employees, as they are the ones who actually provide fans with the product. The WWE tends to sign wrestlers to multi-year contracts, in order to keep them around for as long as possible, but like any other job, they lose employees every single year, either because a wrestler moves on to another promotion, or because a wrestler chooses to retire, or because the company itself decides to release (fire) them. Several WWE wrestlers have either retired or gotten fired in 2017, and 2018 will be no different, and the purpose of this article is to identify 7 wrestlers who will probably retire next year, and 8 who will get fired.
15 Fired: The Colons
It is true that tag teams are generally made up of two individuals, but in most cases, if one member of a team gets fired, then it likely means that the other member is on his way out the door too. The Colons are comprised of Primo and Epico, real-life cousins who have been with the WWE since 2011, and in that time, they have basically been repackaged three times now, including stints as The Shining Stars and Los Matadores. It is true that the pair managed to become Tag Team Champions in 2012, and that that reign lasted for just over 100 days, but that was the last time the duo managed to accomplish anything of note. They are currently a part of SmackDown, which has a Tag Team division dominated by The New Day and Usos, and amongst all the other teams, they are at the bottom of the barrel in terms of popularity, and seeing as they have already been given several failed chances, it is about time that the WWE moved on.
14 Retire: Kane
Since his official debut in 1997, Kane has constantly been referred to as a monster, who has decimated all those in his path, and for the most part, that is completely true. If fans think that Kane will be around for another long run, then they are in for some disappointment, because Kane will likely be around for another month or so before leaving again, and probably for good this time. In a few months, Kane will turn 51, so he probably does not want to take the kind of bumps and chair shots that his character has taken over the past 20 years anymore. Plus, he seems to have his life after wrestling in sight, as he is currently running for mayor of Tennessee's Knox County, and if he wins, he won't be able to spend so much time on the road anymore.
13 Fired: Curt Hawkins
There have been numerous wrestlers who have left the WWE only to return years later in hopes of either ending or reinvigorating their careers, and in Curt Hawkins' case, he thought that rejoining the company was the best thing to do for his career. That turned out to be the wrong move however, because Hawkins is more or less a joke right now, as he has now lost more than 140 consecutive matches. With WrestleMania quickly approaching, it means that we will soon start to see a lot of NXT call-ups, and if that is the case, then there will indeed be some roster cuts to make way for the new talent, so it makes no sense for the WWE to keep someone like Hawkins around, especially if they are just going to make him lose every single match.
12 Retire: Rhyno
Rhyno has been wrestling since 1994, and although he is currently a part of the Raw roster, he is rarely seen on TV, mainly because the WWE literally has no plans whatsoever for him. This should not come as a surprise though, seeing as Rhyno has been a hardcore wrestler for the majority of his career, a style that the WWE has severely watered down over the past decade. At 42, Rhyno is not that old, but considering all the punishment he has put his body through already, he may finally call it a career in 2018, especially if he keeps being put in throwaway matches that do nothing but embarrass him. Like Kane, Rhyno has also tried to enter politics, by running for a seat in Michigan's House of Representatives, and although he failed to win, the fact that he even ran shows that he is looking to get out of wrestling.
11 Fired: Heath Slater
We already mentioned that Rhyno will probably call it a career in 2018, and when he does, it will leave Heath Slater in a pretty awkward place, as the argument can be made that his partnership with Rhyno is the only reason why he was not fired last year. Slater has been with the WWE since 2004, and although he showed some promise as a member of The Nexus in 2010, it has pretty much been all downhill for him ever since. Last year however, he managed to elevate himself for a brief period of time after teaming up with Rhyno and eventually becoming the inaugural SmackDown Tag Team Champions. Since losing the titles, and being moved to Raw, Slater has barely been seen on TV, and there are absolutely no plans for him whatsoever, essentially making him dead weight yet again, and the WWE cannot afford to keep wasting a roster spot on dead weight.
10 Retire: Sheamus
Throughout history, there have been wrestlers who have had to retire as a result of injury, and for those who remember Edge's retirement, you know full well how emotional such a retirement can be. Sheamus has been with the WWE since 2006, and since his main roster debut in 2009, he has managed to accomplish a great deal, becoming a four-time World Champion, a two-time United States Champion, and a three-time Tag Team Champion. Sheamus may be a big part of Raw, but this past week we learned that he is currently dealing with spinal stenosis, which is an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal, and which is the same issue that ended the careers of both Edge and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Considering how physical Sheamus is in the ring, it stands to reason that he will continue to aggravate this injury, and if he does, he could risk paralysis, which is a very valid reason to retire early.
9 Fired: The Ascension
Here we have the Ascension, the second tag team to appear on this list, and with good reason, because aside from The Vaudevillians, they are the biggest failed duo to come out of NXT. Viktor and Konnor have been a team since 2011, and while they were in NXT, they did pretty well, becoming the promotion's longest reigning tag team champs along the way. Had things worked out, The Ascension could have become this generation's version of The Road Warriors, but their gimmick fell flat on the main roster as soon as they debuted three years ago, thanks to a variety of reasons. While on SmackDown, Konnor and Viktor have barely been used on TV, with their last appearances being in November as lumberjacks, and as "comedic relief" in some Fashion Files segments. The fans know that these two have worn out their welcome, and in 2018, the WWE will come to its senses and cut the cord on this failed experiment.
8 Retire: Big Show
Since 1995, we have watched the Big Show tower over many wrestlers, and in doing so, he has managed to secure himself a spot in the Hall of Fame, an induction that will happen fairly soon given that this is likely his last year in the ring. Seeing as Show is still very big, he does not have to worry about doing moves that are incredibly taxing on the body, but he still has to do fairly dangerous things in the ring, which is why he is currently rehabbing a pretty serious hip injury that he suffered in a Steel Cage match. Show will be turning 46 in February, and although he is arguably in the best shape of his life, he appears to be done with wrestling, as he has even admitted that he does not see himself appearing in another WrestleMania after this year. He also no longer needs to be the company's strong giant anymore, as Braun Strowman has basically taken over that role now.
7 Fired: Apollo Crews
Many of the individuals who have been called up to the main roster have found some sort of success, but there have also been those who have failed miserably following their call-up, like Apollo Crews. Crews literally crashed and burned as soon as he debuted back in April of 2016, a failure that is truly unfortunate given the fact that he is a very skilled competitor. The WWE has tried to make Crews more relevant by making Titus O'Neil his manager, but the move has done nothing to help elevate his status, mainly because the fans have already decided that they are not interested in him. It is true that the WWE could try to turn him heel, but it seems like the damage has already been done, as no one will likely miss him if he gets fired in the coming year.
6 Retire: Goldust
Not many people can say that they have had nearly 20 different championship reigns while in the WWE, but Goldust can, which is why he will likely be inducted into the Hall of Fame at some point. The Bizarre One first debuted in 1995 but the man behind the paint actually began his career in 1988, which means that he is about to enter his 30th year in the business, which is downright incredible. Goldust has left and returned to the WWE several times, and although he is seldom used on Raw, he tries to make the most of whatever time he does get. In April, Goldust will turn 49, and even though he is in great shape and can still perform fairly well, it is clear that he does not have that much left in the tank, and there is no real reason for him to keep wrestling just to keep elevating others at his age.
5 Fired: Dana Brooke
After years and years of pain-staking mediocrity, the Women's Division has finally been rejuvenated by women who can ACTUALLY wrestle, but even with that being the case, there are still some visibly weak links within the division. Dana Brooke is probably the weakest of those links, as she has not accomplished a single thing since signing with the WWE in 2013, and although she is visibly athletic, she may have the division's worst character and move-set. Based on how unpopular Brooke has been with the fans, it will be very surprising to see her make it out of 2018 with a job, especially since the WWE just promoted five more women to the main roster a few weeks ago, women who will basically bury Dana even deeper.
4 Retire: Mickie James
For a little more than a decade, the WWE's Women's Division was a dark pit filled with women with little-to-no wrestling backgrounds or skills, making it a time when the women were on TV for their looks rather than their ability to actually wrestle. Despite the lack of skill though, there were still some women who could actually perform, and Mickie James was one of them, which is why her career has spanned nearly 20 years. Since returning to the WWE last year, the six-time Women's Champion has shown that she still perform, but at 38, her days are ultimately numbered. That's not because 38 is old, but because she only returned to the company to finish up her career, a finish that could be coming in 2018, since she would like to spend more time focusing on her music and young son.
3 Fired: David Otunga
David Otunga began his wrestling career in 2009, and when he retired in 2015, he did so with two different Tag Team Championship reigns under his belt. Shortly after his retirement, the WWE moved Otunga over to commentary, where he was very dull and boring, but what really made him special was the fact that he was in a relationship with singer Jennifer Hudson. Earlier this year, Otunga, who wanted to expand his acting career, was replaced on commentary with Booker T, who has now taken over the job completely, which is why Otunga is now a pre-show panelist. The WWE does not need so many panelists, especially if they are not Hall of Famers, and since Otunga is still incredibly boring, the company will hopefully realize that they can replace him with someone far more interesting.
2 Retire: The Undertaker
Taker's career started way back in 1984, which means that he has been in the business for over three decades, most of which have been spent with the WWE, where he has cemented himself as one of the greatest wrestlers in the company's 65-year history. Following his loss to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania 33, everyone believed that they had just witnessed Taker's final match, given the fact that he left his gear in the middle of the ring, but seeing as everyone is now refraining from calling him retired, many believe that he will be back for this year's event. Whether he competes at WrestleMania 34 or not, one thing is for sure, Taker will officially retire in 2018, because not only will he be 53 years old, but because he has already shown that he is too old to wrestle in matches that are meant to be long and physical.
1 Fired: Rich Swann
The Cruiserweight Classic was very well received by fans when it aired in the summer of 2016, which is why it is strange that the Cruiserweights have not been able to capture the interest of most of the WWE Universe. As a former Cruiserweight Champion, Rich Swann is one of the faces of the division, and rightfully so seeing as he is fairly charismatic, and a pretty good in-ring performer. Swann was poised to challenge for the title yet again, but thanks to his recent arrest, not only are those plans likely scrapped, his entire career is probably done. On December 10, Swann was arrested in Florida on charges of battery and kidnapping/false imprisonment, with the victim being identified as his wife. Once they learned about the arrest, the WWE immediately suspended Swann, and seeing as the company does not like scandals like this, they will likely fire him within the next month, which will make him the first Superstar to get fired in 2018.