Usually just around Wrestlemania season, WWE will undergo something of a talent purge. Some wrestling critics and online wits will refer to this process as “Spring Cleaning,” and it has become a matter of course for wrestling fans to speculate about who will be leaving, why they are leaving, and what their future plans will be.
The creation of All Elite Wrestling, however, threw something of a monkey wrench into these works. Ever since 2001, WWE has been without serious competition in the North American pro wrestling marketplace. Organizations like TNA/Impact, Lucha Underground, and Ring of Honor have had many successes, but have yet to come close to the market footprint that WWE enjoys.
What this means, among other factors, is that WWE has been able to blithely release talent without having to worry if they are giving competition a viable star.
All Elite Wrestling’s advent means that this is no longer the case. Releasing a wrestler could mean that that very same talent will be appearing on a different channel at the same time as WWE product. This means that the WWE must now be very, very selective of whom they release.
The three superstars and one backstage producer that have been released have already been covered in great detail, but what about those wrestlers who could be next on the chopping block? Here are five wrestlers who could soon face an exit from WWE… whether they like it or not!
#5 Mojo Rawley WWE Release
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about WWE CEO Vince McMahon over the many decades of his career in wrestling promotion, it’s that he loves professional football with a great passion. It was this passion that led him to try his hand at his own professional American football league with the XFL once before, and now is causing him to give the project a go once again.
Vince McMahon’s love of pro football could also be what has made him take chances on former football players who have ultimately failed in spite of a great deal of effort on the part of the company.
Heidenreich was once pushed to the moon, even joining the legendary Road Warriors, before WWE finally gave up on him. Likewise Baron Corbin was once thought to be the next big thing in WWE, but wound up floundering to the point of being put in a largely non-wrestling role.
Add to the list of former football players who have floundered one Mojo Rawley. He was pushed quite hard upon his rise to the main roster, and won the Andre the Giant memorial battle royal, but otherwise has accomplished nothing of note.
Why he might be released soon: Mojo Rawley isn’t a great wrestler, and he hasn’t gotten over with the crowd as WWE would have liked. Also, he is not a major established star (see below.)
What he might do if his release comes: Mojo Rawley, unlike men like Tye Dillinger, probably has little prospect of being hired by promotions like All Elite Wrestling or Ring of Honor. His best bet might be to head back to the indies for some polishing, like Drew McInytre did.
#4 Dana Brooke WWE Release
Dana Brooke is a former fitness model and bodybuilder who must have seemed like the perfect fit for the role of a WWE Diva.
Unfortunately, she came into the WWE about the same time as less of an emphasis was being put on women’s looks and more on their wrestling ability. The women’s evolution has meant that now it takes in ring talent to truly be pushed to a prominent role in the company.
Pro wrestling is a very hard entertainment form to perform. It requires not just athletic ability, which Dana Brooke obviously possesses, but also an ability to synchronize your movements with your fellow performers in a way that even professional dance troupes would find difficult. While Dana has the look of a superstar, she has never really gelled in the ring with her opponents.
They tried to transition her into a manager/valet role, but she doesn’t have the charisma of someone like Paul Heyman or Zeb Colter. Her role with Titus Worldwide has been considered underwhelming.
Why she might be released soon: Dana Brooke has struggled to get her in ring performance on a par with her appearance and potential. Her lack of major status or career accolades don’t help her much, either.
What she might do if she gets her release: A journey to Impact, Ring of Honor, or Japan seems unlikely, due to her lack of wrestling skill. She could, however, easily return to the world of modelling.
#3 Bo Dallas WWE Release
The son of former WWE World tag team champion and WCW World Television champion Mike Rotunda was quite popular on the NXT brand. The yellow brand’s emphasis on in ring action and more traditional wrestling gimmicks helped him tremendously.
However, when he was elevated to the main roster, he was re packaged as an inspirational speaker and all of his momentum died. When you brand a wrestler into a comedy act, it’s usually the death knell of their career – just ask Terry “Red Rooster” Taylor. Since leaving behind the inspirational speaker gimmick, he hasn’t done much, though the B Team was a moderate success.
Why he might be released soon: Bo Dallas doesn’t have the ‘look’ that Vince McMahon craves for his wrestlers, and his long tenure likely translates to a higher salary that the WWE would rather spend on a superstar they believe to be more ‘marketable.’
What he might do upon his release if it comes: Bo Dallas is quite a skilled in ring performer, but seems undersized. We can think of three guys who all fit that bill and have just started their own wrestling company…
#2 Luke Harper WWE Release
Known by a variety of names but most frequently as Brodie Lee, the big man may look like a typical ‘redneck’ but is actually a top tier, elite athlete capable of performing moves that men half his size cannot, such as his insanely high drop kick.
He has also demonstrated an ability to keep up with, and even out-wrestle, much smaller athletes in the cruiserweight category. When the Wyatt Family first broke up, it seemed like Harper had a shot at reaching the main event, but an untimely injury derailed his momentum, and a hasty Wyatt family reunion didn’t do much for him, either.
Why he might be released soon: Harper, while quite powerful, doesn’t have the rippling musculature of men like John Cena, and isn’t considered photogenic by the WWE. He has also suffered several untimely injuries.
What he might do upon his release: Luke Harper could probably find employment in just about any wrestling organization out there, from ROH to AEW to New Japan, but he has been dabbling in acting roles, so Hollywood might be his next stop should his release be given.
#1 Rusev WWE Release
Miroslav Barnyashev, known better to the world as the Bulgarian Brute Rusev, had only been wrestling for two years when he was brought into WWE’s developmental territory of Florida Championship wrestling.
Rusev was kept in development for over four years, which is a moderately long time to be in such a place for an experienced wrestler. It’s no where near as long a tenure in developmental as Nick “Eugene” Dinsmore once endured, but it’s still a long time.
He joined the main roster in 2014 and enjoyed an undefeated streak, mostly because Vince McMahon really wanted a Russian heel (he’d tried once before with Vladimir Kozlov.) Because of Rusev’s heavy accent, he was paired with Lana as a mouthpiece, who eventually became his wife.
Rusev has held multiple mid card championships but has never ascended to the main event, despite his popularity with the crowd due to his Rusev Day gimmick.
Why he might be facing his release soon: Rusev is a talented performer, but the fact is Vince McMahon has never believed in him since the monster Russian heel gimmick failed. Rusev has cut his hair and lost weight in an effort to impress the boss, all for naught.
Where he might go if he gets his release: Rusev, thanks to his strong social media game and appearance on Total Divas, has some appeal for promotions like Impact and New Japan, who like wrestlers with some internet fame. He could also wind up in AEW or Ring of Honor because he’s skilled enough for those promotions. Rusev’s release might wind up being a blessing.
There you have it – five WWE superstars who could be next for their release from the company. Questions or comments? Please leave them below the article, and as always, thanks for reading!
Despite WWE suspended her, Becky Lynch has continued to show up on WWE programming to attack Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair.
Word is that, Becky Lynch would be leaving the company sooner than later. And while some kick that “The Man” would have her last match at WrestleMania 35, others in the company are saying she would stay much longer to pursue her career to the zenith.