In any major pro sport, a team’s roster is always in flux. There may be the same core players on the roster, but there are always trades, free agent acquisitions and losses, and minor league promotions and demotions to account for. It is no different in the world of pro wrestling, especially in WWE. Every year, wrestlers are fired by WWE to make way for some new wrestlers. Some wrestlers are recruited from other promotions – such as New Japan Pro Wrestling or Impact Wrestling – while some wrestlers are promoted from WWE’s developmental brand, NXT. We are about a quarter of the way through 2018, but we have yet to see too many big firings or hirings made by WWE. Drake Maverick (formerly Rockstar Spud) is arguably the biggest signing WWE has made thus far, while Enzo Amore may be the biggest name WWE has released.
There is a good chance WWE will make some notable firings and hirings at some point in 2018. As they do every year, WWE will fire some wrestlers who they have no plans for, whose contract they simply do not want to renew, or talent who want to pursue opportunities elsewhere. Conversely, WWE is always scouring the market for new talent to add to its’ roster – whether it be talent capable of heading straight to the main roster or those who need the experience of appearing on NXT. But what about the possibility of WWE re-hiring a couple former WWE stars? WWE has not been shy about giving many former WWE stars another shot at success with the company.
Continue reading to take a look at 8 hirings, re-hirings, and firings that we might see from WWE in 2018.
24 Hired: Marty Scurll
Marty Scurll is a talented wrestler who has somewhat quietly built up a very strong and loyal fanbase over the years. He has amassed fans from his time spent wrestling on the independent circuit as well as during his relatively brief tenure with TNA. Now signed to Ring of Honor, Scurll has genuinely emerged as a terrific heel. His character has become synonymous with the dark mask and umbrella motif, both of which help him stand out from the crowd and makes him unique. Scurll is presently a member of the popular Bullet Club, though it remains to be seen how long he will remain there.
Scurll has yet to wrestle for WWE, but it’s hard to imagine Scurll not eventually landing there.
After all, his act and gimmick are pretty much perfect for WWE. Not to mention his built-in star power and the fact that the veteran wrestler is a known commodity, the fit makes a great deal of sense. Scurll has made his villainous character successful overseas because of his creativity with his “Villain” gimmick. If he is handled properly, there is a good chance that Scurll could become a main event calibre heel for WWE.
23 Re-Hired: John Morrison
John Morrison made his debut on the main roster with WWE back in 2005, alongside Melina and Joey Mercury in the MNM stable. After experiencing a good amount of success with the team, Morrison broke away and embarked on a singles career in WWE. Morrison was consistently involved in the mid-card picture, and won a few championships including the ECW Championship, Intercontinental Championship, and the World Tag Team Championship with The Miz.
Morrison departed the company in 2012, despite WWE having offered him a three-year deal to return. This allowed Morrison to become an even bigger star on his own, having achieved fame in the Mexican and American independent scene. He experienced a great deal of success in Lucha Underground, having won the Lucha Underground Heavyweight Championship.
More recently, Morrison has received a fair bit of mainstream fame recently due to his appearance in the Netflix show Glow. While Morrison is currently signed to TNA, he will probably be yet another relatively big-name star to leave the troubled wrestling promotion – particularly if WWE comes calling. It should be safe to assume that WWE would be interested in Morrison, now 38 years old, since they had originally wanted to re-sign the veteran a few years ago.
22 Fired: Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows
WWE fans would probably not be too surprised to hear that Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows are rumored to not be satisfied with their current status in WWE. These rumors appear to have originated from a chance in Anderson’s social media profiles that no longer listed him as being a WWE superstar. While these changes may be meaningless and hold no true implications for their future, WWE fans can’t help but feel they are one of the most criminally underused acts in WWE. After all, Anderson and Gallows were brought in with an insane amount of hype after being one of the hottest tag teams on the indies as part of the Bullet Club. Practically ever since splitting from AJ Styles, Anderson and Gallows are seldom involved in any meaningless storyline and are often reduced to some slapstick comedy that does not fit their characters.
For all of these reasons, plus their likely respectable WWE salaries, it would not at all be surprising to see WWE and Gallows and Anderson head their separate ways in 2018. Both are talented workers and could add a lot to the tag team division, but it appears as though they are best suited to return to the indies. This would probably allow them to rejoin the insanely popular Bullet Club yet again.
21 Hired: Taya Valkyrie
Taya Valkyrie is a talented female wrestler who has consistently proven to be one of the more talented female wrestlers to have not wrestled for WWE yet. Valkyrie made her pro wrestling debut in 2012, where she wrestled for various promotions in Mexico. Since making her debut, Valkyrie has done some amazing work in Mexico and gained a large amount of fame for her impressive work at Lucha Underground. She is a two-time AAA Reina de Reinas Champion with Lucha Libre AA, where she wrestled for several years.
In addition, the 34-year-old Canadian has proven herself to be a stunning wrestler who is capable put on a great match with almost anyone in the ring.
She is currently signed to Impact Wrestling, although it remains to be seen how long her contract runs for.
Valkyrie would be a tremendous addition to WWE Women’s Division, adding a talented veteran to deepen either the Raw or SmackDown Live women’s roster. She should likely prove herself to be capable of holding her own in WWE Women’s Revolution, with the likes of Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss, and Sasha Banks. After all, Valkyrie is an experienced wrestler who generates good reactions from the crowds and has a knack for adapting to her opponent’s wrestling style and abilities.
20 Re-Hired: James Storm
James Storm made his first appearance on WWE programming in 2015 on NXT, when he defeated Danny Burch. He also went on to defeat Adam Rose, before opting to leave the company altogether. All in all, Storm only lasted a few months with the company when he decided that he would rather return to TNA.
Storm wrestled for TNA for a few years and was involved in a few fairly notable storylines, both in a tag team and as a singles wrestler. In what became a recurring storyline, Storm was never quite able to win a World Championship in TNA but he was involved in some big matches as a main-eventer. Since leaving TNA in November last year, Storm has wrestled a few matches on the independent circuit. He is currently signed to Insane Championship Wrestling, but he has publicly expressed his desire to have a proper stint with WWE in the future. Presumably, Storm will be free to sign a contract with WWE at some point this year. When that time comes, WWE should not hesitate to sign the veteran wrestler. Storm would likely be able to debut on the main roster right away and become involved in either the mid-card or the main event. Also helping his case is that Storm is a credible heel and babyface, allowing for some very interesting matchups on Raw or SmackDown.
19 Fired: Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler must be seriously frustrated with the way he has been booked by WWE for several years now. Not including his brief time as a challenger to WWE Championship a few years ago, Ziggler has been relegated to meaningless storylines or throwaway matches. This is such a shame since he is a very talented wrestler who is a competent heel and babyface, when booked properly. Ziggler seems to have received something of a fresh of breath air since being partnered up with Drew McIntyre on Raw. The heels are getting some solid TV time and are garnering some healthy reactions from the crowd, something Ziggler likely hasn't seen in some time.
It would be unwise to expect this alliance with McIntyre to last for very long. McIntyre is likely being groomed as a future main eventer for WWE, which would make Ziggler a stepping stone for yet another up and coming wrestler.
This is a waste of Ziggler's talents and makes him essentially a glorified jobber. Regardless of what Ziggler's current contract status may be (reports are that he re-signed with them a few months ago), it would not be surprising to see Ziggler and WWE head their separate ways in 2018.
18 Hired: Will Ospreay
Will Ospreay is currently one of the hottest in-ring talents in the wrestling industry right now, in any promotion. The high-flying Cruiserweight has impressed audiences and wrestling front offices all around with his immaculate work in the independent circuit. He is currently the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, and is also currently signed to New Japan Pro Wrestling. Ospreay has won several championships since making his debut in 2012, but has rarely ventured into North America.
Ospreay is known to be reluctant to sign with WWE, which is somewhat understandable. WWE does not exactly have the greatest track record at booking cruiserweights properly historically, and the current product at 205 Live has been a mixed bag of results. With that said, Triple H is now running 205 Live and has done his best to see to it that cruiserweights are taken seriously. Part of this has to do with signing Drake Maverick (formerly Rockstar Spud) to serve as the show’s General Manager and recruiting other talented wrestlers to appear on the show, such as Cedric Alexander, Hideo Itami, and Kalisto. With the increasing amount of talent on the show, it is possible that Ospreay could be enticed to join WWE if their offer is right.
17 Re-Hired: Wade Barrett
Many WWE fans were shocked that they chose to release Wade Barrett in 2016, particularly since his Bad News Barrett and King Barrett gimmicks were well received by the WWE Universe. Perhaps WWE simply ran out of ideas for him, or they wanted to give other wrestlers a spot on the roster and Barrett was simply a casualty of that. Regardless, Barrett and WWE agreed to his early release from his contract so that Barrett could pursue an acting career.
His acting career did not go as expected, but he recently made his return to wrestling when he was named the on-screen General Manager for Defiant Wrestling. Barrett has always been good on the mic, but it remains to be seen how long he will last in this role Barrett will likely want to get in the ring again and, even though he is not the best wrestler, he can certainly hold his own. WWE needs some strong main-eventers to freshen up the scene and, if given the chance, Barrett could be a useful commodity for WWE. It also helps that Barrett has almost always been over with the WWE Universe and can also be a veteran wrestler to work with some of the younger wrestlers.
16 Fired: Rusev
Rusev Day may soon become extinct in WWE. Recent rumors have strongly suggested that Rusev will be turning heel and ditching Aiden English in favour of his real-life wife and former manager, Lana. This is an extremely mind-boggling decision because Rusev and English are very popular and have gotten over on their own. For whatever reason, this leads to WWE punishing them for getting over. Partnering Rusev with Lana will likely derail any momentum Rusev garnered and return him back to complacency on the WWE roster.
Rusev has been outspoken about his dissatisfaction with WWE and his role in the company, only for WWE to briefly give him a push.
Sooner or later, Rusev will find his way out of WWE. If this is the case, fans should now know that Vince McMahon will want to halt any momentum and make Rusev look less desirable before he leaves the company. Turning him heel and pairing him with Lana will accomplish just that, as we all know that Rusev has a limited ceiling as a heel. Rusev will likely be better off on another promotion that will use him properly and allow him to show his personality, which will help get him over with the fans in any promotion he signs with.
15 Hired: Toni Storm
Toni Storm may have a tiny bit of WWE experience, but that was only as a member of the Mae Young Classic a few years back. She never signed an official WWE contract nor appeared on WWE programming outside of the tournament, so we classify herself as someone who would be a “new” hiring. The Mae Young Classic has given WWE a chance to scout top-class female indie wrestlers, such as Storm. By all accounts, WWE likes what they saw with Storm and have reportedly been interested in signing her for some time now.
It’s not hard to see why WWE is so enamoured with Toni Storm. The Australian wrestler is very attractive and has the kind of look that WWE seemingly prefers in the female wrestlers they push. In addition, Storm is a talented wrestler who should be able to hold her own with some of the other stars in WWE. Despite being only 22, Storm has been in pro wrestling since 2016 and has won several championships for Australian wrestling promotions. It’s possible WWE will want to send her to NXT first, but WWE will likely continue pushing to sign her with the goal of seeing her become a star on the main roster.
14 Re-Hired: Rey Mysterio
The rumors about Rey Mysterio making his return to WWE have been circulating for at least a year now. Despite the rampant speculation, the WWE Universe was pleasantly surprised to see Mysterio make his return as a surprise entrant at the Royal Rumble this past January. He hit the 619 on a few wrestlers and put on quite a display, just as he did when he was younger. It was only a one-off appearance unfortunately, as he returned to the independent circuit and has resumed wrestling for New Japan Pro Wrestling and AAA. It’s also worth mentioning that Mysterio again appeared in WWE at the Greatest Royal Rumble in April, but there was nothing to suggest this was anything more than another one-off appearance.
All of this has led to more speculation about future negotiations between WWE and Mysterio about returning for what would likely be a short-term, part-time deal. Both sides seem to have expressed interest in working with each other again, and it’s only a matter of time before he makes his return. His next contract will probably be his last since Mysterio is 43 and will probably find it hard to maintain his style of wrestling at such a high level for much longer. At some point in 2018, Mysterio will hopefully return to WWE and compete in a handful of fantasy match-ups that will no doubt be entertaining.
13 Fired: Sheamus
In Sheamus’ case, perhaps “fired” might not be the best way to phrase it. Either his contract will not be renewed, he will retire, or he will transition to a behind-the-scenes role. Regardless, Sheamus will likely have wrestled his last match for WWE in 2018. Sooner or later, Sheamus and WWE will both have to consider his health since he has been suffering spinal stenosis for some time now. WWE takes these medical conditions seriously, as they should. It’s a shame though since Sheamus has been having one of the best years of his career after being partnered with Cesaro, as it has revitalized both of their careers. Both men are talented wrestlers who bring a certain level of physicality to their matches, so it would only be fitting for Cesaro to be the one to possibly retire Sheamus.
Retiring will allow for Sheamus to take care of his health and ensure his spinal stenosis does not continue to worsen.
Sheamus is 40 years old, which is not necessarily the worst age to retire at. It will maybe open up other opportunities for him, such as settling down and starting a family. It’s also possible that Sheamus can become a trainer or somehow be involved behind the scenes in WWE.
12 Hired: Eli Drake
Eli Drake is in a bit of a tough situation. He is an extremely talented wrestler and a quality main-event type wrestler, but he is not as well-known as he could be. This is partly because he is signed to Impact Wrestling, who has been embroiled in turmoil for some time now. That has detracted from the wrestling product, but Drake has nonetheless continued to be a complete professional. He always talks positively about Impact Wrestling and encourages fans to purchase the product.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Drake’s tenure with Impact come to an end sooner or later, just as many others have before him. WWE has been closely monitoring the situation at Impact Wrestling, and seemingly loves signing former Impact stars who are looking to escape the turmoil. Drake will likely be lured to signing a respectable deal with WWE, and gain a larger platform for him to show off his talents. One would think that WWE would be impressed with Drake’s professionalism when it comes to promoting the product, in addition to his in-ring wrestling improvements and quality mic skills. It’s certainly possible Drake will appear in NXT before 2018 comes to an end and join EC3, who also bolted Impact for WWE.
11 Re-Hired: Kharma
Kharma undoubtedly has some unfinished business in WWE. She made her debut with WWE in 2010 under the Awesome Kong gimmick. She was supposed to be booked as a real powerhouse wrestler contrary to the other female wrestlers at the time, albeit with a terrible ring name. She was used terribly during the three years she was with the company, with her surprise appearance at the 2012 Royal Rumble being her only real noteworthy contribution.
Kharma is 40 years old and last wrestled with TNA in 2016, but she is still a talented wrestler. Kharma stands out from the other wrestlers, and there should be no doubt that Kharma will be used better this time around.
This time around should be different because WWE is now taking women’s wrestling much more seriously. There are many more talented wrestlers for Kharma to work with now, compared to the females on the roster during her first stint with the company. In addition, Kharma still stands out because of her dominating, intimidating presence. She has that rare blend of being a good wrestler while also looking like a bonafide powerhouse every time she steps in the ring, even moreso than the likes of Nia Jax or Tamina Snuka.
10 Fired: Mickie James
Mickie James was originally brought back to WWE in 2016 with the idea of being a veteran wrestler to work with, and ultimately put over, young up-coming wrestlers. To her credit, James has done a great job doing just that. She has helped those she has worked with, especially Alexa Bliss. It’s not hard to imagine this current contract being James’ last one with WWE, as she will be turning 39 years old this August. She has done all she was supposed to do in WWE this time around, and is deserving of one last big match to serve as a proper send-off for all she has done in WWE.
It’s become clear Mickie James will not be receiving a serious run with either of the Women’s Championships, so all signs point towards her heading towards the end of her in-ring career. Her plans after her contract comes to a close with WWE remain largely unknown. It is possible that she will continue wrestling on the indies, but it is also possible James would rather settle down with her family. Mickie James has done quite a lot for the wrestling business and has put over many talented female wrestlers in WWE. Many former WWE talents are giving back by training future wrestlers at the WWE Performance Center, so maybe we will see James make an appearance or two there.
9 Hired: Matt Riddle
In recent years, the WWE have been actively trying to increase its’ public profile in an attempt to gain more mainstream attention. Signing Ronda Rousey has helped them do this, and WWE’s ongoing television deals seem to signal an ambition to become more mainstream. As part of this ongoing effort, WWE has been snapping up popular athletes from all over the world – even if they may not necessarily have a wrestling background.
More and more, former UFC fighters have made the transition to WWE to varying degrees of success. One now-former UFC fighter who may capture their attention would be Matt Riddle. While he is not as recognizable as some other UFC fighters, there is no doubt Riddle brings some UFC fighting credibility with him. In addition, Riddle actually has some wrestling experience under his belt already. He has been appearing on the independent circuit for a couple of years now, and had already won a tag team championship in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) with Jeff Cobb. It stands to reason that Riddle could be enticed by the opportunity and money WWE could offer him. Riddle would also be a quality mid-carder or addition to the tag team division on the main roster.
8 Re-Hired: Emma
Emma is yet another talented female wrestler who WWE never really used as well as they could have during her stint with the company. Her first time on the main roster was wasted as part of a comedy/dancing shtick with Santino Marella. The time spent in NXT did wonders for her, as she found success as a heel wrestler. However, she was booked quite questionably on the main roster – similar to the way many others who have experienced the same thing. The whole Emmalina gimmick was a mistake from the beginning.
While there may be some in WWE’s front office who dislike Emma for not wanting to fully commit to forgettable Emmalina gimmick, the fact remains that there is a lot to like about her.
She has that “look” for female wrestlers, plays a convincing heel, and is an extremely talented wrestler similar to Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. Emma asked for her release because she, accurately, felt she was not being used to her fullest potential. Any return to the company would have to convince Emma that they would use her properly and likely give her more freedom to not be forced to undergo a bad character change. Signing Emma would add another great talent to either women’s roster, which is what would be best for business.
7 Fired: Alicia Fox
Alicia Fox is one of those wrestlers who will likely be on the list of wrestlers on the verge of being released by WWE this year. Despite being one of the longest tenured female wrestlers in WWE, Fox has not done anything really relevant on WWE programming for quite some time now. She has never been a particularly poor wrestler, but there does not really seem to be a spot for her on the roster anymore given the impressive depth of the women’s division. Needless to say, the quality of the female wrestlers is significantly better than it was when Alicia Fox made her debut in the late-2000s.
Also not helping her future with WWE is the reports of Alicia Fox having gotten into a spat with Ronda Rousey’s husband, Travis Browne. By all accounts, Browne was being nice and generous at a WWE event before being confronted by Fox. This was followed by her missing the Women’s Battle Royal and not appearing at WrestleMania. With Fox being in the proverbial doghouse and being someone WWE evidently has no real plans for, it makes it incredibly likely that Fox will be looking for employment elsewhere. With her long history in WWE, that should garner her some value on the indies.
6 Hired: Tessa Blanchard
Tessa Blanchard is actually a second generation wrestler, since she is the daughter of the Four Horsemen’s Tully Blanchard. He was very underrated for most of his career and was overshadowed by some of the bigger names in the stable, but Tessa is talented enough that hopefully she will be able to be a big star in her own right. Tessa is still only 22 years old, which means she is still relatively inexperienced but there is hope she can become a big wrestling star.
Blanchard has only briefly worked for WWE as part of the Mae Young Classic about a year ago, but has never really signed a real contract with the company yet. Blanchard signed a deal with Impact Wrestling a few months ago, but the details aren’t known about how long her contract is with the promotion. Nevertheless, it would not be a shocker if Blanchard joined WWE later on in 2018. Rumors have continued to persist about WWE wanting to sign Blanchard to a full-time contract with the objective of sending her to NXT for a while so she can gain a bit of experience. Once she is ready, a storyline with her and Charlotte Flair would practically write itself.
5 Re-Hired: Matt Sydal
Matt Sydal formerly appeared in WWE as Evan Bourne between 2008 and 2014. He was a high-flying wrestler who won fans over with his energetic wrestling style. Bourne was consistently involved in various championship matches, but his sole WWE championship reign came with Kofi Kingston when the two won the WWE Tag Team Championships. Injuries and two wellness test failures ultimately led to WWE releasing him in June 2014.
Since then, he returned to the independent scene where he has experienced a career rejuvenation. He has also done some of his best work with Impact Wrestling, where he appears as Matt Sydal. In doing so, he has proven himself to be a quality wrestler worthy of being involved in the championship scene.
Sydal has become yet another former WWE star to have their careers turned around since joining Impact Wrestling, similar to Bobby Lashley, EC3 and Drew McIntyre.
Given what many wrestling fans know about the turmoil going on at Impact Wrestling, it would not be too surprising to see Sydal join those three wrestlers and return to where it all started at WWE. One of the few things that may threaten to stand in the way is his drug use that has gotten him into some trouble more than once over the years.
4 Fired: Big Cass
Big Cass returned after WrestleMania 34 and received a bit of a mini-push. He entered into a feud with Daniel Bryan, with the hopes that Bryan would be the guy able to help get Big Cass over as a heel. As hard as Bryan has tried, Big Cass still hasn’t been able to live up to his potential yet. While he has a good look, Big Cass isn’t the greatest on the mic and leaves something to be desired with his wrestling skills. Big Cass also reportedly has backstage heat after Big Cass went considerably off-script in a segment with Daniel Bryan. According to Bryan Alvarez, this is not the first time that Big Cass has received backstage heat.
In considering all of the above, and Big Cass’ injury concerns, it would not be too surprising to see WWE release Big Cass at some point in 2018. It is not as though WWE has a shortage of big men who are capable wrestlers worthy of wrestling towards the stop of the card. There are also many other deserving wrestlers coming up through NXT who may get a shot at the main roster later on this year, and Big Cass may ultimately become a casualty of that.
3 Hired: Cody Hall
For better or for worse, WWE seems to take a liking to second- and third-generation wrestlers. One of these wrestlers who might be on WWE’s radar would be Cody Hall, the son of WWE Hall of Famer Scott Hall. There has been some goodwill surrounding his father, which makes it a bit easier to consider bringing his son aboard. There is little reason to doubt that Cody will have a fan in WWE with his mixture of size and genetics. After all, the 6’9 Cody is already much taller than his father – who is also a big guy in his own right.
Cody was trained by his father as well as by Diamond Dallas Page (DDP), but he has also spent a large part of his wrestling career thus far wrestling overseas in Japan. He enjoyed a bit of success during the brief time that he spent as a member of The Bullet Club, even though he was mostly the one who took the pins in tag team matches. Unfortunately, a serious injury ultimately brought an end to his time with New Japan Pro Wrestling. Cody is still wrestling on the indies, but it is still likely that he will appear at the WWE Performance Center or on NXT before too long.
2 Re-Hired: Batista
Batista is arguably much more popular with WWE fans than he was during his second stint with the company back in 2014, when he was originally supposed to be a babyface. That of course ended up poorly, as WWE was forced to turn him into a heel (as he said he always wanted to be) because the fans rejected him for taking the spot of fan favourite Daniel Bryan. Since departing WWE in June of 2014, Batista has kept very busy and has continued to receive some very high-profile movie roles.
At this point in his career, Batista does not really need WWE because his acting career has taken off. With that said, Batista had previously expressed interest in returning to the company for one final run. In 2017, Batista revealed on the Talk is Jericho podcast that he would love to have one final program with Triple H, which would culminate in Triple H retiring him. Batista and WWE have reportedly been in talks for Batista to appear, such as being Ronda Rousey’s tag team partner, but those talks have been unsuccessful. It would be great to see Batista return to WWE in 2018, and have a retirement match with Triple H next year at WrestleMania 35.
1 Fired: Natalya
Letting Natalya go would easily be one of the most shocking releases WWE could do in 2018. For several years now, Natalya has been a model worker. She has been extremely reliable for the company, has been well-behaved and has remained loyal to the company even when she wasn’t used properly. Natalya was finally rewarded with a Women’s Championship reign last year, but the reality is that Natalya might be leaving the WWE as a wrestler sooner or later. While she has teased retirement in the past, the fact remains that she is 35 years old. She apparently wants to think about settling down and having a family with Tyson Kidd. Continuing to wrestle on a full-time basis makes that particularly difficult, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Natalya wrap up her in-ring career by putting over some of the younger wrestlers.
Just because Natalya’s days as a wrestler may be coming to a close does not necessarily mean her time with WWE is over. Natalya certainly has proven she has much more to offer WWE in other ways. She can still contribute to WWE as a co-star on the popular Total Divas show, and can even become a trainer on NXT or at the WWE Performance Center. Natalya certainly seems like she is a WWE ‘lifer’.