The WWE roster is constantly changing with the goal of improving on every level. WWE’s rise as a global brand is making their company more valuable than it has ever been before. We are witnessing drastic changes that fly under the radar. Two controversial Saudi Arabia shows are raking in massive money for WWE this year among the highest paydays offered in company history. The upcoming Super Showdown in Australia is arguably bigger than Royal Rumble, SummerSlam and Survivor Series this year. An addition of new major shows with huge crowds proves the demand for the company continues to rise. Fox Sports offered WWE over $1 billion for the rights to air SmackDown starting at the end of 2019. All these changes along with four different brands (Raw, SmackDown, NXT, 205 Live) means the company will try to add every top talent available with the money they have to spend.
Unfortunately, the addition of new stars also means that some people must go. Not every wrestler is living up to the expectations set for them in WWE. There are also some that are flat out being used poorly because the company no longer has interest in them. We will look at both sides of additions and subtractions that would improve WWE and the lives of many wrestlers. There are major names that need to get released from WWE. There are also names on the free agent market that would improve the company a lot. Here are ten wrestlers they should release and the ten they should sign in 2019.
20 Release: The Revival
Many wrestling fans will be heartbroken to realize The Revival have no chance to succeed on the WWE main roster. The combination of Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder has struggled to find relevance since getting the call-up to the main roster following great success in NXT.
A team like The Revival needed 15-to-25-minute matches on TakeOver specials to truly show their skills and get over. There’s zero chance of this happening on the main roster. Only established teams over at a high level like The Shield, The New Day, and The Usos get that perk. The Revival leaving WWE would be the best move for all involved.
19 Replace: The Young Bucks
One tag team that can get over in just about any situation right now is the Young Bucks. Both Matt and Nick Jackson bet on their talent in more ways than one when creating the All In show. It turned out to be a massive success making them among the top free agents in recent memory.
The Young Bucks have reached a status where they will be instant stars the second they debuted in WWE. Matt and Nick are among the few wrestlers outside of WWE hitting seven-figures due to the success of their merchandise along with the ROH contracts. It will take a massive offer for WWE to sign the Young Bucks, and they have the money to spend right now.
18 Release: Dolph Ziggler
This year, Ziggler has gotten the most opportunities of his WWE career in ages. Ziggler aligning with Drew McIntyre and Braun Strowman has him involved in the top Raw program against The Shield. The problem here is that Ziggler is the one person that stands out as not belonging in this feud.
A few lackluster performances in singles matches against Seth Rollins hurt Ziggler’s credibility, given how Rollins has been having killer matches all year. The past few years have seen wrestlers, pundits, and fans all believe Ziggler should be out of WWE. His recent mediocrity proves it. WWE should release Ziggler, and Ziggler should bet on his own talent in other promotions.
17 Replace: Kenny Omega
The movement of promotions outside of WWE finding relevance has been driven by many wrestlers, but Kenny Omega is the most important one. Omega's terrific matches in New Japan on every show created momentum that led to new fans trying out the product and getting booked.
NJPW recently made Omega the IWGP Heavyweight Champion as they continue to expand internationally. WWE reportedly is livid about ROH and NJPW running a sold-out show in Madison Square Garden during WrestleMania weekend next year. The best way to help the company and hurt the competition would be signing Omega to a huge deal. Omega would even have a chance to become the face of the company, given his talent and reputation.
16 Release: Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows
The combination of Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows are unfortunately one of the biggest free agent busts in recent WWE memory. Both former Bullet Club members signed with WWE the same time as AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura, with all four considered massive additions to the roster.
Anderson and Gallows have failed to stand out as much as their fellow New Japan stars after making the move. It has been long enough to realize this tag team just won’t cut it in WWE. All parties would be better off losing each other. Anderson and Gallows would return to being stars in NJPW, with WWE getting more roster space for better talent.
15 Replace: Pentagon and Fenix
Two massive names currently on WWE’s radar are Mexican stars Pentagon and Fenix. Both of the Lucha Brothers have shined collectively as a tag team as well as singles stars. Impact Wrestling, Lucha Underground, and MLW all used them well as they excelled on their respective television shows.
Pentagon and Fenix have potential to be the most successful lucha libre stars for WWE since Rey Mysterio. Fenix is arguably the best high-flyer in the industry and is just 27-years-old. Pentagon is considered among the most well-rounded performers. WWE is reportedly going after them, and it would be a wise move to add them in 2019.
14 Release: Dana Brooke
Dana Brooke has struggled to find much progression in her career since getting called up to the main roster. WWE had high hopes for Brooke after signing her away from the fitness competition world. However, her past success did not give her much help in WWE.
There were some good moments in NXT when she teamed with Emma, but everything on the main roster has worked out poorly for Brooke. The end of the Titus Worldwide faction sees her with less of a role on the product right now. Dana might be better off improving on the independent circuit, and WWE would improve giving her spot to a more talented performer.
13 Replace: Tessa Blanchard
Tessa Blanchard deserves strong consideration when discussing the best female wrestlers in the world today. The addition of Blanchard to the Impact Wrestling roster has seen her dominate the division and as arguably the best overall performer on the roster regardless of gender.
One of the most surprising things about Tessa’s success is that she is only 23-years-old. A performer reaching such a high level at a young age is a great sign for a long career. WWE would be insane to not go after her as soon as possible. There are few outside talents as valuable to a women’s division as Blanchard.
12 Release: Mojo Rawley
Mojo Rawley is one of the few former NFL players to get signed by WWE and make it up to the main roster following time in the Performance Center. There were high expectations that Rawley would be a future world champion due to the combination of his athletic background and charismatic personality.
WWE has done nothing of note with Mojo on the main roster. The biggest moment of his career came when he won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania thanks to the help of Rob Gronkowski. It did nothing to move him up the card, and a heel turn has seen him fail to get television time. Rawley’s time in WWE could be coming to an end.
11 Replace: Shane Strickland
One of the top independent wrestlers to get attention from WWE lately is Shane Strickland. The athletically gifted young man pulls off dazzling moves in the ring and has added more personality to his game in recent years. MLW has made Strickland a focal point of their television show, and WWE’s sister promotion Evolve put the World Championship on him.
WWE reportedly was impressed with his improvements over the past two years and believes he’s ready for a spot in the company. A young, hungry talent like Strickland signing with WWE is nothing but a positive for the promotion. Expect it to officially happen at some point in 2019.
10 Release: Jinder Mahal
The career of Jinder Mahal has trended downhill following the end of his WWE Championship reign. Vince McMahon invested a lot of time and booking into Mahal carrying the biggest title on the SmackDown brand for most of 2017. The matches and storylines for Jinder typically disappointed on a major level.
WWE sent Mahal over to Raw in the Superstar Shakeup as the United States Champion, but it was a terrible move for his career. His quick rivalry against Roman Reigns is the only relevant feud he’s had on the Raw brand. Jinder, unfortunately, doesn’t have the skill set to thrive in today’s WWE and could be gone soon.
9 Replace: Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes' decision to leave WWE completely changed his career in the best way possible. Many pundits questioned the future of Rhodes after he made the decision to leave WWE in hopes of reinventing his career on the independent scene. An alignment with the Young Bucks and Bullet Club helped Rhodes show his skills in the best way.
Cody will become a free agent when his Ring of Honor and New Japan contracts expire at the end of 2018. WWE will likely offer a huge contract when Rhodes is available to sign. Cody’s presence at All In should inspire WWE to do anything they can to bring him back.
8 Release: Mike Kanellis (w/Maria Kanellis)
Mike and Maria Kanellis are struggling to get television time on the Raw brand. The real-life couple signed with WWE in 2017 following success as an act in Ring of Honor, New Japan, and Impact Wrestling. WWE was impressed enough with their success to let them skip NXT for a spot on the main roster.
Certain outside-the-ring issues slowed down Mike’s push as he was forced to miss television for a few weeks. Maria’s pregnancy took her out of commission shortly after as well. Both wrestlers are back and ready to do something of note, but WWE has nothing for them. Maria has been posting cryptic messages on social media that will likely lead to them getting released.
7 Replace: WALTER
WALTER has been a standout talent on the international independent scene for a few years now. Progress Wrestling is the main promotion that put him on WWE’s radar. There are many rumors circulating that WWE wants to sign WALTER to a contract. He even appeared on some of the Axxess events during WrestleMania weekend.
There's no denying how high his stock is right now. WALTER is the current PWG Champion and wrestles for many exciting promotions as a top name. WWE adding him would present one of the most agile and explosive big men in the industry today. It makes total sense that they want to add WALTER to the roster.
6 Release: Apollo Crews
Very few wrestlers have been underutilized as much as Apollo Crews in recent years. His combination of speed, strength, and agility made him a huge name on the independent circuit. Triple H signed him to NXT and was very impressed with his ability. Crews received a rare pay bonus in his first few months and would get called up to the main roster within a year.
Crews' main roster run has been a huge disappointment. It is hard to remember anything he has done outside of the comedic work in Titus Worldwide. WWE clearly doesn’t think Crews has the charisma to succeed there. Both parties would benefit from his release.
5 Replace: John Morrison
Former WWE star John Morrison has done a great job finding success outside of the company. Lucha Underground made Morrison the face of their promotion, and Impact Wrestling is using him as a top guy already scheduled for the main event of Bound for Glory.
Morrison's success extends outside of wrestling with various acting roles and a spot on the next season of Survivor. WWE would benefit greatly from bringing Morrison back. There would be a higher ceiling than prior years to show his potential as a top name. The extra money WWE has to spend could convince Morrison to return as soon as 2019.
4 Release: The Ascension
The Ascension had potential to be a credible tag team for WWE following a great run in NXT. Full Sail fans loved Konnor and Viktor, but they have done nothing to get over on the main roster. WWE gave them television time early on before burying them at the hands of various legends they disrespected.
The past few years have seen The Ascension failing to get any momentum at all. Putting over bigger stars is what they're good for on television these days. WWE would be better off releasing them to find a better tag team replacement for the Raw roster. The Ascension would likely have a shot to prove their skills on the independent circuit as well for a potential return.
3 Replace: LAX
Impact Wrestling has seen a resurgence of sorts with fans giving their product another chance. The new management regime of Scott D’Amore and Don Callis led to a transition period of new wrestlers joining the promotion. Past successful act LAX returned with new wrestlers leading the way.
The legendary Konnan was the one person from the old LAX to come back and lead the new wrestlers of Santana and Ortiz. This young duo delivered great matches on a consistent basis to lead to huge success for them. LAX could be argued as the best tag team in wrestling now. WWE would be foolish to not try to add them to the roster at some point soon.
2 Release: TJ Perkins
205 Live is still struggling to get momentum after a rough start for the Cruiserweight Division. The division had great potential following the Cruiserweight Classic tournament in 2016. TJ Perkins won it and was the Cruiserweight Champion to start the division, along with the new show 205 Live.
The failure of Perkins as a champion set the tone for a horrible start for the brand. They are still trying to figure it out with a new taping time before SmackDown and new airing night on Wednesdays before NXT. Perkins is one talent that has not fit in on the brand. His time is running out on 205 Live unless something changes soon.
1 Replace: Will Ospreay
The biggest realistic free agent acquisition for 205 Live would be Will Ospreay. At the age of 25, Ospreay has developed a reputation for being the best high-flyer in the business. New Japan made him a fixture on the roster and the top star in the Junior Heavyweight division.
Ospreay’s international success in the Japanese, United Kingdom, and North American wrestling scenes proves he can get over with different crowds. The matches of Ospreay are often must-see bouts with moves fans can’t even process. This is exactly what 205 Live needs to truly thrive as its own brand.