For wrestling fans, WrestleMania season is like Christmas. It’s a time of the year where fans are expectant of the big day, however, they’re also just as interested now in the RAW & SmackDown after WrestleMania. These nights have become symbolic for change, as NXT superstars make their debuts in roster shake-ups.
Amongst the excitement of new talents, older talents who were often on the brink of an exit anyway, get lost in the shuffle and released through the back door. The reasons why fans love WWE worldwide is because of it’s tendency to be unpredictable as the unexpected always reigns supreme. The shocking releases of current wrestlers is also part of that unpredictable roller-coaster…
It’s 2018 and the WWE’s current roster is undergoing many changes every month. New names are constantly being introduced and older names are being erased from the WWE website by the day. Professional wrestling has never been the most stable of professions in the world and a release is never far away from ANY superstar. Why? Because wrestling will always move on, regardless of the name and star, there’s always someone else ready to take that spot.
Here are 10 WWE releases after WrestleMania 34 that will be surprising and 5 that are obvious.
15 Surprise: NATALYA
Love it or hate it, Natalya is one of the greatest female competitors of her time. Not only is she a member of the esteemed Hart family, she’s a 2-time world champion. She’s been around since the times of Beth Phoenix & Co. and stayed in the upper echelon of female performers on the show. But as time has gone on, the WWE’s reliance on her has dwindled as newer stars have entered the affair.
As unfortunate as it may be, Natalya may find herself spending more time at home with the injured Tyson Kidd. At Hell in a Cell in October, Natalya lost another championship match and seemingly walked out on the WWE Universe. This sent shockwaves around the WWE Universe, so imagine the ripple effect that will be generated when she’s released for real.
14 Surprise: BIG SHOW
When the Big Show debuted in 1999, few would have known he’d become the greatest big man in wrestling history. Perhaps only Vince McMahon knew as he signed Paul Wight down to a 10-year contract at the time. Regardless of who knew or who didn’t, the Big Show has put together a legendary career in the WWE, working with ALL the greats.
However, an era is ultimately defined by the emergence of another one. And to his credit, The Big Show has survived both the Attitude Era and the Ruthless Aggression Era. But despite that, the New Era may just be one step too far for the 7-footer. And as one of the highest paid performers in the company, releasing The Big Show in 2018 would be the smartest business decision Vince McMahon could make.
13 OBVIOUS: SIN CARA
WWE hasn’t turned out too well for the ‘next Rey Mysterio’. The WWE had high hopes for the Sin Cara character back in 2011, but despite being played by multiple people, the legend of Sin Cara has died. WWE officials tried their best to revive Sin Cara through the formation of the Lucha Dragons, but even a catchy chant couldn’t save him.
However, for the minimal waves, he was making in the ring, Sin Cara would spoil all that work backstage. In November 2016, Sin Cara was ordered to take anger management classes due to separate incidents with Chris Jericho and Simon Gotch. Since then, Sin Cara has been used sparingly in the Cruiserweight division and in US title matches on SmackDownLive.
12 Surprise: LANA
#RusevDay is literally at its peak as its now the most over chant/slogan in the WWE today. Finally, The Bulgarian Brute is receiving plaudits his talents deserve. A few years ago, it was his spouse Lana that was receiving the adulation from sold-out crowds, whilst the Bulgarian Brute stood there embarrassed and ashamed. Oh, how the tables have turned, it’s now Lana who comes out to no crowd reaction and Rusev who gets the love.
The release of Lana would be shocking, but inevitable. At a point, she was the most over performer in the company, but everyone has their time and sadly the Ravishing Russian couldn’t live up to expectations when given a chance in the ring.
This release would be shocking because Lana was once as popular as the male main eventers and she’s now a key feature in E!’s Total Divas. However, the wife of one of the most over superstars in the company will be packing her bags after WrestleMania, showing how ruthless the industry of professional wrestling is.
11 Surprise: DANIEL BRYAN
It’s no locker room secret that Bryan Danielson is desperate to get back into the ring. Ever since he suffered multiple concussions in consecutive months, WWE doctors have deemed the YES-man as unfit for the ring. The decision didn’t sit well with the former WWE champion and he’s made it abundantly clear since that he wants to return to the squared circle.
It’s clear as day that the SmackDown general manager is not enjoying his role on Tuesday nights and an exit isn’t totally out of the question. Add to the equation, the birth of Bryan’s new child and the 36-year-old could shockingly prepare for life without the WWE after WrestleMania. Recent rumors have suggested that he recently turned down a contract extension, all but guaranteeing he'll soon be gone.
10 OBVIOUS: R-TRUTH
The former Awesome Truth member has had a storied career in the WWE. From pay-per-view main events with John Cena & The Rock to completely being left off of cards, R-Truth has experienced it all in Vince McMahon’s company.
At the tender age of 45, R-Truth doesn’t have much more to give to the world of sports entertainment. It’s only the likes of Triple H, Goldberg and the Undertaker that can be considered as main eventers in their late forties. For Truth, the injuries are piling up and it’s becoming harder and harder for the 45-year-old to recover from them. From the company’s perspective, in the year of 2018, R-Truth isn’t an asset that they can continue to subsidize constant healthcare benefits for.
9 Surprise: RANDY ORTON
There’s no doubt about it, Randy Orton is one of the greatest WWE Superstars of this generation, if not, all time. He was the youngest world champion in history and from a young age, Vince McMahon invested heavily in him. Now we’re in 2018 and put simply, the 13-time world champion’s star power is on its last legs.
For those who don’t know, in recent years, Randy Orton has yearned for more time away from the ring. The Viper has become a family man and has been happily married to Kim Kessler since 2015. He recently stated in a podcast with Edge & Christian that he’s waiting for the time when the WWE doesn’t need him to sell tickets for tours. With the new era upon us, after WrestleMania 34, it could be the time the Viper has been waiting for.
8 Surprise: BROCK LESNAR
At WrestleMania 34, Brock Lesnar’s last remaining ounces of star power will be used to coronate the heir to the throne, Roman Reigns. That’s basically all the Beast was brought back for, to put over the next face of the company. This coronation was meant to happen at WrestleMania 31, but a boisterous backlash from the fans was anticipated, subsequently allowing Seth Rollins to steal the spotlight. Fast forward a few years and Roman Reigns has beaten the Undertaker and Triple H in back to back WrestleMania main events, now it’s Lesnar turn.
The Beast incarnate spent the majority of 2017 at home with the Universal Championship. And when he does turn up, it’s only for 20 minutes as Paul Heyman spills out a winded promo. The fans are bored of it and guess what, the businessman inside of Vince McMahon will know his prized asset is rapidly losing value. After WrestleMania 34, does Brock Lesnar still deserve to be the WWE’s highest paid performer? No. And rumors of a switch to UFC for Brock only make this release more plausible.
7 OBVIOUS: MIKE KANELLIS
It was clear from the day he debuted in the WWE that Mike Kanellis would not be a key feature of SmackDownLive. His borderline cringy segments with his wife Maria made for uncomfortable television at times. His time in the bright lights would be short lived as Mike would admit to having a drug abuse problem in October. Since then, he’s only appeared at two WWE events, one was the 21st of November edition of SmackDown while the other was the live event called Starrcade.
In the world of wrestling, there’s no time for superstars who don’t find their feet instantly. Of course, some are given a second chance, but most are not. Mike Kanellis needs the WWE more than they need him and unfortunately for him, he’ll find that out after WrestleMania.
6 Surprise: GOLDUST
The eldest son of the American Dream has had a topsy-turvy 12 months in the WWE. The departure of his younger sibling Cody Rhodes has left Goldust high and dry with no real creative direction. The only bit of prime TV he’s enjoyed is an inconsistent storyline with R-Truth. Now the bizarre one has aligned himself with Cedric Alexander in the Cruiserweight Division, basically the rending the whole 205 Live experiment useless.
For the Attitude Era resident to be given his marching papers after WrestleMania would be highly shocking, as the 48-year-old has been a regular fixture in the WWE for two decades now. He’s synonymous with the entertainment side of wrestling and for him to go would represent a major shift in WWE programming.
5 Surprise: KANE
The Big Red Machine may be involved in the Universal Championship match at the Royal Rumble, but in a wider scheme of things, his use to the WWE product is close to minimal. The Devil’s favourite demon has enjoyed a career in the WWE spanning just over 20 years. But never has the monster looked so behind the pace, it’s a wonder as to how he’ll keep up with Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman.
From a different perspective, outside of the WWE, Glenn Jacobs has a budding political career. In March last year, Kane announced that he’d be running for the mayoral seat of Knox County as a Republican. You only have to look at his campaign website to see how busy the 50-year-old is now. After WrestleMania 34, the WWE will focus on a new era while Kane will focus on a political career. It makes sense for all parties involved.
4 OBVIOUS: DANA BROOKE
The NXT graduate may be part of Titus Worldwide but her stock as a women’s wrestler has plummeted over the past year. She’s now used for her aesthetic assets, rather than her wrestling ability. When that starts to happens, just know that things are slowly coming to an end. She’s become an expendable part of Monday nights and as the women’s revolution continues to expand, they’ll soon be no more use for Dana Brooke.
At the Royal Rumble, we’ll be given our first ever Women’s Royal Rumble match and I’m sure at the Elimination Chamber, the women will also be making first-time ever history. Dana may be booked as a part of these history-making events, but after WrestleMania, there’ll be no more use for the Titus Worldwide member.
3 Surprise: DOLPH ZIGGLER
The Show-Off has seemingly fallen out of favour in the WWE, constantly being relegated to feuds against newbies from NXT. The WWE no longer view him as a main eventer, instead, they use him to put over newer talents, whilst his stock simultaneously plummets. Over the course of 2017, the crowd reactions for Dolph Ziggler got quieter and quieter and in response, the WWE has decided to phase him out of high-profile situations, relegating him to a lower to mid-card talent.
The former world champion’s contract is rumoured to be coming to an end and neither of the two parties involved seems eager to renew. As the new era continues to usher itself in, talents like Dolph Ziggler will soon become a distant memory after they’re released from the company.
2 Surprise: ALICIA FOX
I, like many, can’t seem to understand why Alicia Fox hasn’t been utilized to greater use on the main roster. It took her just over a decade to get her first piece of merchandise and when she did get it, she was captaining the RAW Women’s Survivor Series team. But since then, the crazy one has seemingly fallen off the face of the earth, again.
There wouldn’t have been a women’s revolution if the former Divas champion didn’t pave the way for the women of today. Perhaps we’ll see her return in the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble because let’s face it, they need her credibility to legitimize the event. After they’ve used her star power in the Rumble, I’m sure they’ll place her in another meaningless multi-woman match at WrestleMania, allowing her to fade off into the sunset with no importance.
1 OBVIOUS: THE COLONS
The Colons have been completely erased from the memory of the WWE Universe. Their status on Tuesday nights is lower than that of a jobber, as they don’t even appear on television anymore. Even the Ascension receive more TV time than them, that’s how bad things have gotten on SmackDownLive.
The last time the duo were seen was on the SmackDown after Survivor Series, as they were part of the lumberjacks in the New Day’s match against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Fast forward a few months and the former tag team champions haven’t been seen or heard from. With the tag team division thriving in NXT, after Wrestlemania 34 we’ll see a plethora of tag teams debut and there’ll be no space for the already off-TV Primo & Epico.