With the rise of All Elite Wrestling, it has become commonly accepted that it is easier now to make a living as a professional wrestler than it ever has been. For the better part of the 2000s, wrestlers would be released from WWE and languish in Total Nonstop Action/Impact Wrestling before ultimately being released from there as well. However, while AEW is a new company, WWE superstars have been making a living from promotions besides WWE and TNA for years. From small promotions within the United States to promotions all over the world, here are just some of the wrestling promotions that WWE stars have worked for.
10 New Japan Pro Wrestling
To start off this list, we'll include a promotion that most fans will know: New Japan Pro Wrestling. While it is quite well known to current WWE fans that superstars like Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, and every member of The OC wrestled in NJPW, other notable WWE performers who have competed in New Japan Pro Wrestling in the past include everyone from WWE Legends like Hulk Hogan to notable big men like Vader, innovator of the Vader Bomb.
Current NJPW wrestlers who used to work for WWE include Hideo Itami, Dean Ambrose, and TM-61's Nick Miller.
9 Pro Wrestling Noah
While New Japan Pro Wrestling is perhaps the most well-known Japanese pro wrestling promotion known to the more casual fans of wrestling in the western world, Pro Wrestling Noah is also an extremely successful promotion in the land of the rising sun. The most recent WWE performer who competed in Pro Wrestling Noah regularly was when Shelton Benjamin and the rest of Suzuki-gun invaded Pro Wrestling Noah in 2015, before Benjamin's WWE return. Other WWE stars who competed in Pro Wrestling Noah include Daniel Bryan, Cesaro, and current WWE NXT Commentator Nigel McGuinness.
8 Fight Club Pro
Fight Club Pro is one of the lesser-known promotions on this list, but their list of WWE competitors is pretty astounding. The British-based promotion seems to have been a promotion that the WWE scoped a lot of their NXT UK talent from, as the promotion holds not only Chris Brookes, a competitor that the WWE offered a spot to in the inaugural United Kingdom Tournament, but it was also a home for current NXT UK stars like Travis Banks, Jordan Devlin, Trent Seven, and former WWE United Kingdom Champions Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne.
7 Ring of Honor
From one of the lesser-known promotions to one of the biggest, Ring of Honor was perhaps the second-biggest wrestling promotion in the United States before All Elite Wrestling came into existence at the beginning of 2019.
Ring of Honor still operates today, of course, but many of their biggest names have jumped ship to exclusively perform for All Elite Wrestling. However, some of the former WWE personnel who wrestled for Ring of Honor include people like Cody Rhodes, The Hurricane, Bubba Ray Dudley, and former WWE Champions Daniel Bryan and CM Punk,
6 House of Hardcore
Tommy Dreamer's House of Hardcore has garnered a huge fan base. House of Hardcore was able to get a big shout-out when Dreamer himself appeared in AEW Double or Nothing's Casino Battle Royale wearing a House of Hardcore shirt. However, Dreamer's promotion has had plenty of support from his fellow WWE performers, and while the roster did have only former WWE stars, it contained many. Some of the House of Hardcore alumni include Matt Hardy, Billy Gun, EC3, Matt Striker, Rhyno, and even former WWE Cruiserweight Champion The Premier Athlete Tony Nese.
The last Japanese promotion on this list, Battlarts is actually a now-defunct promotion. Battlarts ran from 1996 to 2011, and is still considered a fan favorite promotion by many hardcore wrestling fans. The Battlarts roster is interesting in that it was an amalgamation of other promotions, like Michinoku Pro Wrestling and Big Japan Pro Wrestling. One of the most interesting portions of the Battlarts roster was the few sporadic WWE alumni, as it was a strange combination of veterans, like Bob Backlund and The Road Warriors Hawk and Animal, the roster was also home to Santino Marella and Jeff Hardy.
4 Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide
AAA, the abbreviation of the original Spanish name Asistencia Asesoría y Administración, is best known to the United States audience as the home of lucha libre wrestling, and that reputation is well-deserved. However, while AAA is obviously known as the world of lucha libre, there have been plenty of former WWE wrestlers who have competed for the promotion, both lucha libre wrestlers and non-lucha libre competitors alike.
Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara, and Kalisto are just some of the lucha libre style wrestlers who have competed in AAA, while the likes of Bobby Lashley and Jeff Jarrett have also competed for the promotion.
3 Juggalo Championship Wrestling
While some fans of pro wrestling may think of Juggalo Championship Wrestling as a joke or a farce of pro wrestling, the promotion has garnered some legitimacy over the years. Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J had a few appearances in WCW and WWF, but they eventually decided to start their own promotion and were even able to get former WWE and WCW World Champions like Jeff Hardy and Diamond Dallas Page to compete for them. The current Juggalo Championship Wrestling roster is not very deep at the moment, but it still has former WWE competitors like Rob Conway and Sabu.
2 Fusion Pro Wrestling
Not to be confused with the Welsh promotion of the same name, the Denver-based Fusion Pro Wrestling joins the ranks of Battlarts as a defunct promotion. As a part of the National Wrestling Alliance, Fusion Pro Wrestling began holding events in 2003, and they were able to gain a substantial list of former and current WWE competitors to wrestle for them. Fusion Pro Wrestling alumni include former WWE Tag Team Champion Trevor Murdoch, and current WWE competitors Bobby Lashley and AJ Styles. Fusion Pro Wrestling has unofficially ceased operations, as their last event was held a decade ago in 2009.
1 House of Glory
House of Glory is one of the more well-known regional promotions. House of Glory opened was opened in 2012 by The Amazing Red, a respected high-flying veteran, and in just a few years, the promotion has hosted a number of prominent wrestlers. Most notably, the AEW tag teams Private Party, Santana and Ortiz, and The Young Bucks have all performed for House of Glory. The former WWE alumni that have competed in House of Glory include names like Rich Swann, Tommy Dreamer, Kaval (Low Ki), Sofia Cortez (Ivelisse), Ultimo Dragon, and Juventud Gurrera, just to name a few.