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WWE did release stars like Enzo Amore and Big Cass in 2018, but fans didn’t see the company’s usual “spring cleaning” firing spree or the departure of any major main event caliber stars during the course of the year.
Rather, the company signed Ronda Rousey and brought back notable names like Bobby Lashley and Rey Mysterio to add even more star power to one of the most star-studded rosters in its history.
Likewise, WWE scooped up many of the top stars on pro wrestling’s independent scene in an effort to revamp NXT, a list that includes but is certainly not limited to Ricochet, Matt Riddle, Chelsea Green and Keith Lee.
But this year, that could certainly change. With the continued success of non-WWE promotions like New Japan Pro-Wrestling and Ring of Honor (and the launch of the billionaire-funded All Elite Wrestling) giving pro wrestling’s biggest superstars more places to make big money than ever before and with the careers of several top superstars winding down, chances are we will see more than just one or two substantial stars leave WWE in the near future.
Here are top stars who could bolt WWE in 2019.
A few weeks ago, it was revealed that Shinsuke Nakamura was one of a handful of WWE stars whose contracts were expiring in early 2019. Nakamura was recently interviewed by Inside the Ropes were he commented on these rumors. Below is a highlight.
Nakamura on his WWE contract expiring:
“That is a big decision. Florida’s waves are better than Japan, it’s just an hour drive to the beach but just once a week I’m able to go to the surfing. But in Japan, if there’s a hurricane so I lived across from the beach, just a ten-minute walk. It’s hard to choose.”
Percentage of Shinsuke Nakamura Leaving WWE: 68 percent sure he’s leaving this year
Dolph Ziggler WWE Contract expiration
Dolph Ziggler was a guest on E&C’s Pod of Awesomeness hosted by Edge and Christian. During the interview, Ziggler opened up about his current position in WWE and also shared some insight into his future after his WWE contract expires.
Now he teases that he has a very ‘short amount of time’ left to decide what he wants to do again:
“I have a very short amount of time left to figure out if I want to do that again or if there is something to reach for. All I can reach for is having fun ass matches and tearing it down on the weekend because it doesn’t seem to be a specific, great prize to be reaching for here that I can attain. You can be patted on the back and told: “You’re our guy, You’re our Shawn Michaels, you’re so good at this, we can’t do this without you”, but then watch a bunch of people not in that position coast right by. There are no feelings hurt, this is a show business thing, I love it and in a very short time, I have to decide if I need to go away, or go do my own thing or find a different role here”
Percentage of Dolph Ziggler Leaving WWE: 72 percent sure he’s leaving this year
Brock Lesnar WWE Contract Expiration
Brock Lesnar’s current WWE contract expires soon, and though he’s expected to return to the UFC, it’s still very possible that Vince McMahon decides to retain him. But owing to the fact that he’s one of the most dominant superstars in the world, it’s quite possible that he’ll have some steep competition.
According to Felix Upton of Ringside News, it’s possible that All Elite Wrestling reaches out to Lesnar about possibly signing with them. Upton notes it could just be a “clever tactic,” if Lesnar does indeed negotiate with AEW.
In this case, WWE would have to offer Lesnar far more money in order to prevent him from leaving for AEW. Upton notes that The Beast Incarnate did this before when talking contract with UFC.
Percentage of Brock Lesnar Leaving WWE: 55 percent sure he’s leaving this year
Matt And Jeff Hardy WWE Contract Expiration
When responding to a fan on Twitter who thought that he was “threatening” to leave WWE, tag team legend Matt Hardy revealed that he wasn’t threatening, but simply stating a fact, and that he had just 11 days left on his WWE contract.
As of this writing, he has just 10 days left.
While he wasn’t lying to fans, he did leave some information out.
Not a threat at all, just a fact. I have 11 days left on my current deal. I love @WWE, but I’m 100% comfortable being outside the walls of pro wrestling’s "Alexandria" Safe-Zone. I’m a born SURVIVALIST.
My previous tweet will NEVAH face DELETION.
— The VESSEL of Matt Hardy (@MATTHARDYBRAND) February 21, 2019
According to PW Insider, there was a clause in both Matt and Jeff Hardy’s contracts that allowed WWE to extend it to a third year if they wanted.
Percentage of Matt And Jeff Hardy Leaving WWE: 62 percent sure he’s leaving this year
Alicia Fox WWE Release
Alicia Fox showed up intoxicated to a WWE live event and Arn Anderson let her wrestle anyway. However, only Arn Anderson was fired for this offense.
From multiple reports, the WWE Universe wants Alicia Fox to leave: everybody seems to be fed up with her.
Percentage of Alicia Fox Leaving WWE: 90 percent sure she’s leaving this year
# Luke Harper Requests His Release From WWE Contract
Luke Harper has asked for his release from the company but it was declined owing to some funny, incredulous reasons.
However, most of the attention is on the absence of Sasha Banks, who is said to have been given time off after she asked for a release.
Percentage of Luke Harper Leaving WWE: 72 percent Certainty he’s leaving this year
# Sasha Banks WWE Departure
As pointed out by Reddit user RunThisRing, Sasha Banks recently liked the following tweet:-
With every passing Raw and Smackdown I grow less and less interested in the product. I’m starting to realize that I’m supporting a shitty company for its past greatness rather than critiquing it’s current bullshit. I can’t even sit through Raw or Smackdown anymore.
Percentage of Sasha Banks Leaving WWE: 65 percent sure she’s leaving this year