Since Triple H took over the Talent Relation department the WWE has upped their talent roster size immensely. Although a variety of wrestlers sounds great, the same reality cannot be said for those involved. With so many employees on the roster, bad booking becomes that much easier. Taking a look at the current rosters, there are so many Superstars that are forgotten about and typically wrestling on pre-shows and live events. This is the tough reality of a deep roster. What that said, some of these names might be better off outside of the company. This can give them a chance to resurface their value and perhaps return to the company with an entire different identity and momentum on their side. We’ll feature 12 WWE stars headed towards that direction.
On the flip, side we’ll also discuss eight WWE stars that are bound to retire in the near future. We all love nostalgia acts but the sad reality is that even some of our favorites need to move on. We’ll look at some of the obvious names to call it a career sooner rather than later. we also discuss surprising names you might not have anticipated that are contemplating calling it a career sooner than expected.
From Rusev to AJ Styles, this list features 12 WWE stars that are bound for the indies and 8 that’ll retire soon. Enjoy folks and like always be sure to share the article with a friend. Let’s get started!
20 Indies - Daniel Bryan
He was retired at one point but don’t expect that to happen again anytime soon nowadays. Bryan has stated that he plans on working well into his 70s. Knowing Bryan’s passion for the business he isn’t kidding.
Daniel is an honest wrestler and unlike lots of the current WWE stars he isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Bryan suggests that he plans on re-entering the indie scene some day. Among his biggest interests is a possible hair versus mask match over in Mexico. Had WWE not cleared Bryan perhaps he would be living this fantasy nowadays with his contract expiration looming. However, it’ll have to wait for later in the future due to his recent extension.
19 Retiring – Ronda Rousey
“If they are ever going to put the women where they belong, this is the year because Ronda – I think Ronda only signed a 1-year deal and then she’s out of there,” Flair said. “She wants to have kids and all that.”
Ah yes, classic Nature Boy causing quite the stir with his comments pertaining to Ronda’s WWE future even before she stepped foot in the ring. The comments weren’t accurate as it was later revealed that Ronda signed a multi-year contract. However, Ronda did admit to wanting to start a family. Given she’s already in her 30s, she might have only a couple of years left before calling a day and entering motherhood. Rousey turns 32 in February, meaning she might have only two or three years left.
18 Indies - Dolph Ziggler
“He’s is such a good wrestler. If he goes to Japan … probably soon.”
Nakamura might have said a little too much last year during his Talking Smack interview. Shinsuke was referring to Dolph Ziggler and his future with the WWE. Although it was a surprising revelation most hardcore fans expected this. Ziggler hasn’t been the happiest WWE star. He’s enjoying decent success at the moment but he was never labelled as the guy with either Vince or Triple H.
He is yet to sign a contract extension which might mean Ziggler could be eyeing a future elsewhere. The indie scene might be more attractive as he’ll be able to pursue projects outside of wrestling while creating his own independent wrestling schedule.
17 Indies - Asuka
Back in 2015 Asuka was considered among the elite in the entire world. In fact, Dave Meltzer considered Asuka better than any male or female at the time. She enjoyed tremendous success with NXT but the same trajectory has not been followed during her main roster stint.
If things continue on this path it won’t be all that surprising if Asuka decides to leave and wrestle elsewhere. Time isn’t necessarily on her side, she recently turned 37. She might decide to head back home to Japan and have one last run in front of her home fans as the dominant force she once was.
16 Retiring – Goldust
"What's next? I'm at the end of my career here and about to be 50 in April. What else is there to do? I don't know. My body's getting older, they're getting younger and faster".
Those are Goldust’s recent comments during an interview with the Sports Guys Talking Wrestling. Previously, Goldust discussed one final run at the only title that has eluded him, the WWE Championship. However that doesn’t seem to be likely. Goldust has also mentioned that he’ll be a part of the next All In event. Chances are we’ll see Goldust enjoy a brief indie run alongside his brother before ending his career for good. That should take place sooner rather than later.
15 Indies - Rusev
We wouldn’t be shocked if Rusev demanded a release following the complete burial of his “over” Rusev Day gimmick. The company failed to capitalize. It all came crashing down at WrestleMania 34 when Rusev was once again completely overlooked losing out to Jinder Mahal in a US Title match.
For whatever reason the WWE remains insistent on causing turmoil between Rusev and his wife Lana. Once again on-screen the two are rivals with the recent Aiden English love triangle. Rusev might be frustrated with such storylines. He’s wasting his prime years and he may just decide to pursue his career elsewhere once his contract runs out.
14 Indies – Baron Corbin
He’s one of Vince’s favorites but as we’ve seen in the past the boss can turn on a dime. Just ask Big Cass who was once labelled a favorite and a wrestler with the potential to become WWE Champion. A tough backstage reputation hurt his future and the same can unfold with Baron Corbin – it already kind of did with his Money in the Bank contract.
The former football player isn’t the most liked wrestler on the roster. Corbin himself admitted that time and time again McMahon puts him back to reality telling him he’s not as good as he thinks he is. If McMahon sours on Corbin there won’t be too many WWE employees going to battle to maintain his services. Not even Triple H.
13 Retiring - AJ Styles
He might not be retiring this instant however AJ has already thought up a plan for after his WWE run:
“I think there is definitely going to be a time to just sit and chill with the family, but a guy like me just doesn’t sit at at home, so I would like to get back on the road, either as an Agent, or more importantly, become a Trainer of some sort. Who knows what will be around in WWE by the time I retire. There may be a better job than that.” (Source: Uproxx)
He’s still performing at a high level and good for at least a couple more years. The reality however, AJ recently turned 41. Already preparing for life after his in-ring days Styles might have less left in the tank than many would assume given his already thought-out exit plan.
12 Indies – Bobby Roode
The veteran has kept a cool head despite his awful booking. Roode admits things can change quite easily in the WWE. However, let’s look at the facts. Roode has been a member of the main roster for over a year now. Try and think of his most notable performance? In all likelihood, the only thing that comes up is anything NXT related whether it was his feud against Nakamura or Drew McIntyre.
He is set to turn 42 next year. If his booking stays the same he might be headed to his old stomping grounds with Impact Wrestling. Not only did he enjoy brilliant success but Roode also has a Canadian connection, Don Callis who is the current Vice President of Impact. It also helps that a lot of the Impact tapings take place in Toronto, Roode’s hometown.
11 Indies - Apollo Crews
Fans might forget but at one point back in 2014 the signing of Uhaa Nation was a big deal. Triple H set up a video montage hyping Apollo’s NXT debut. The guy looked like a sure WWE Champion.
Fast forward four years later and the best part of his run might have been that very same montage prior to his debut. The video showed some of his best work on the indie scene. He might be better off reliving those moments and enjoying his creative freedom away from the company that completely squashed his talent.
10 Retiring - Mickie James
Mickie didn’t want to call it a career on the indie scene. She admitted on the Lilian Garcia podcast to calling the company with a return in mind at various points. However sadly, the company wouldn’t get back to her time and time again. She almost called it a day when Talent Relation gave her a call. The match was supposed to be a one-off with NXT but instead it turned into a full-time deal.
The veteran continues on one year away from 40. In truth, she still looks phenomenal and her performances haven’t really subsided all that much compared to her prime. However, with a child at home and an interest in the music field her time might be coming real soon.
9 Indies - Dana Brooke
We credit Dana Brooke for at least caring and slamming the company for her lack of work in the last couple of months. However, the sad reality is that fans really don’t care all that much. WWE only has themselves to blame calling up Brooke way too early. She needed more time to develop and it doomed her run on the main roster. It might be hard to believe but it’s already more than two years since her Raw debut... think of a great match featuring Brooke in that time frame?
It might be best for Brooke herself to ask for a release. She can rejoin Emma on the indie scene while getting plenty of in-ring opportunities with opponents from all over the world. She is still in her 20s so time is at the very least on her side.
8 Indies - Gran Metalik
Similar to Apollo Crews, Mascara Dorada aka Gran Metalik entered the WWE with a world of hype surrounding his run on the indie scene. Unlike Apollo, WWE booked him as such early on. Metalik was a standout and major fan favorite for his innovative style during the Cruiserweight Classic. He reached the finals and was the favorite to win. He ultimately lost and his momentum was never the same.
Metalik could be a star similar to Pentagon Jr., Fenix and Bandido. Instead he’s just wasting away in 205 Live. Once his deal expires expect Metalik to return to Mexico and restore that greatness – unless something drastic happens.
7 Retiring - Big Show
Big Show’s in-ring run might be over but we don’t know for sure. According to the Wrestling Observer Big Show is now a company ambassador. He appeared on Raw a couple of weeks back promoting Connor’s Cure. Show is expected to keep the role for the time being.
As for anything in-ring related that doesn’t seem to be the case. Perhaps the big man might have one more match left in him. Following his recent hip surgery we can’t see much more than that. Set to turn 47 and with a career spanning more than 20 years he’s Hall of Fame bound.
6 Indies – Sasha Banks
Sasha Banks has some serious fire and passion when it comes to the business. She grew up envisioning a career with the WWE. These days she’s living out the fantasy. However, all good stories need to keep progressing. There might come a point in which Sasha’s character becomes dry and rather predictable. There's also the feeling that she's being held back, and she's expressed her displeasure about it. At that point in her career, it might be best to prolong her journey away from the WWE.
Four years from now she’ll only be 30. However, just imagine how experienced she’ll be at that point. Perhaps a run outside the WWE will only add to her longevity. Joining Tenille Dashwood aka Emma in ROH as part of their Women of Honor division could do wonders.
5 Retirement - R-Truth
Seriously speaking this guy does not age! Truth continues on in the business, he’s one of the few remaining that began in the 90s. He got his first stint with the WWE way back in 1999 joining Memphis Championship Wrestling. 20 years later, the guy is still touring with the company as a member of SmackDown Live.
Vince loves the guy and so do the fans. However age catches everyone at some point. He’ll turn 47 in January. Surely, he must be thinking about life after the WWE. He’ll retire from in-ring duty real soon. Whatever happens after that is unknown. Perhaps he stays with the company in some type of behind the scenes role.
4 Indies – Zack Ryder
We applaud Zack’s never give up attitude. This is the same guy that was almost released during his developmental days. He turned himself into a star creating an Internet Championship and promoting himself via YouTube. Ryder had no business becoming a star but he put matters into his own hands.
The bubble might finally burst for the 33 year old. He’s rarely featured on main roster programming and that’s a darn shame for a wrestler than can still go. Ryder needs to resurface his name value and that must happen outside of the WWE. Who knows, with a change in identity he can return in a similar capacity to Drew McIntyre or Jinder Mahal.
3 Retirement – Kane
“I may still do a few special things (in wrestling, if elected). I’ve done it for 23 years now and have quite a history, it’ll always be part of my life. I think the question is if I am taking (running) seriously, and of course I am. I wouldn’t (be running) if not.”(Source Sportskeeda)
Those are Kane’s comments prior to getting elected. Clearly, the Big Red Machine was being completely honest as he continues to juggle both. Kane recently returned to WWE television for a run alongside The Undertaker in a battle against DX. It’s a great return for nostalgia purposes but one that has a short-life span. Given Kane’s 51 and with his new spot as the mayor it’s only normal that a retirement is looming somewhere in the near future.
2 Indies – Cesaro
One of the biggest mysteries in the world of pro wrestling is WWE’s inability to give Cesaro a real shot in the upper card. He isn’t doing all that bad alongside Sheamus; The Bar is a great duo. However, so much more was and still is expected from the Swiss Superman.
There is going to come a time when the duo finally disbands. The question is where does that leave Cesaro? Some might say out the door. He has the capabilities to become a huge star even though he’s on the other side of his 30s. If he isn’t booked with a promising singles run he may finally opt to leave the company and enjoy some action against the top talents outside of the company, mainly in ROH, where he has already made a name for himself.
1 Retirement – The Undertaker
Ever since his defeat to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XXX retirement rumors have followed the Deadman. Yes, it’s is almost five years after the fact and he continues on. However, a retirement might be looming for real this time. It would be quite fitting for Undertaker to finally bow out at Survivor Series.
He made his debut at the event so it would be fitting to finally call it a career at the same PPV. If this isn’t the case, perhaps WrestleMania 35 will finally be his “last ride”. Anything after WrestleMania 35 seems unlikely. This might be it for Taker.