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Male and female wrestlers on both Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live who WWE will be releasing soon…
Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks held their indy wrestling supershow, All In, at the Sears Centre Arena in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates. Rumors had swirled ahead of the event that WWE was holding off on its usual “spring cleaning” ritual because they didn’t want anyone defecting to the Indies in time for All In. Now that the event is over and hopefully a pleasant memory to the fans who watched it live or on streaming, it’s time to take stock of the WWE wrestlers who may be wished the best in their future endeavors.
Given the many possibilities in the coming months — a huge wave of wrestler releases in the aftermath of All In, the chance WWE might be ending its brand split more than two years after it was instituted, NXT call-ups, and high-profile WWE hires — we’ve limited our list to male and female wrestlers on both Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live, as well as a couple from 205 Live. We have, however, omitted NXT talents in order to keep things manageable.
Even with NXT talents deliberately left off this list, we believe you might be surprised at how many wrestlers might be cut loose by the WWE in the coming months, or how many may ask for their releases or announce their retirements. So here they are — 14-plus wrestlers (including tag teams and couples, who are listed together) whom we believe are due to quit, be fired, or retire in the immediate foreseeable future.
#14 Big Show WWE Release
For close to two decades, the Big Show has been a loyal employee of the WWE and has had his share of ups (four world titles) and downs (that darned New Year’s baby segment) and many, many turns from heel to face and back. But his occasional in-ring appearances have since screeched to a halt after he underwent hip surgery almost a year ago to this date.
It’s been a colorful career indeed for the World’s Largest Athlete, but it might not be much longer before he heeds the derisive, oftentimes uncalled-for chants for him to “please retire.” At 46, he has nothing more to prove in what has been a Hall of Fame-caliber career in the WWE.
#13 Titus O’Neil WWE Release
At 41-years-old, Titus O’Neil is one of the older male wrestlers on Monday Night Raw’s roster, and it’s clear WWE wants to use him more in a managerial role. But who’s he going to manage if Titus Worldwide is falling apart? Apollo Crews seems to have issues with him, and Dana Brooke just left the faction, so what’s next for Titus?
Despite his many outside-the-ring contributions to WWE, O’Neil’s usefulness as an on-air performer is on the decline, and it won’t be surprising if WWE gives the Gator the pink slip. However, don’t be surprised either if the company finds another way to utilize his promo skills; either way, his time as an active wrestler is running out.
#12 The IIconics WWE Release
The arrival of the onetime Iconic Duo, renamed the IIconics when they were called up to the main roster, hinted that WWE had plans of having a women’s tag team division, and possibly having them feud at one point with the Bella Twins. Fast forward to the present, and the Bellas just made their comeback on Raw, while the IIconics are on SmackDown Live for two reasons only — to annoy the audience with their promos, and for one or both of them to do the job.
At 29 and 25 respectively, Billie Kay and Peyton Royce still have youth on their side, which means it may be better for them to reinvent themselves in the indies instead of counting the lights for the babyface women of SmackDown Live.
#11 Rusev And Lana WWE Release
At this point, Rusev can be called the “boy who cried ‘future endeavors,’” as he has so often teased a WWE exit on social media, only for Dave Meltzer or WWE insiders to report that he was just joking around. But you know what they say about jokes, right? They can be half-meant, and we have serious reason to believe Rusev isn’t happy with his lack of success in the WWE since 2015.
Sure, every day may be Rusev Day, and Lana may be number one to a lot of SmackDown Live fans. But if their start-stop booking (especially Rusev’s) continues to be a problem, you can bet they’ll soon stop playfully trolling the fans and make good on their threat to leave WWE.
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#10 Goldust WWE Release
Like some of the other names in this list, Goldust is well into his 40s, with more than two decades of pro wrestling experience under his belt. In fact, he’s only seven months shy of his 50th birthday, and it’s a credit to his durability that he remains employed by the WWE as Monday Night Raw’s elder statesman.
As he underwent surgery on both knees just two months ago, the only thing left for this grandson of a plumber to do is to announce his retirement, at least as far as the WWE goes. But don’t expect him to be inactive for too long, as we could easily see him teaming up with his younger brother Cody in the indies as he enjoys one last run as the Bizarre One.
#9 Dana Brooke WWE Release
Let’s start out with the good news – Dana Brooke is no longer with Titus Worldwide and is free of the on-and-off statistician gimmick that suited her poorly. The bad news is that it probably won’t lead to a better push – whenever WWE needs someone to put top female babyfaces over, they know whom to turn to.
Unfortunately, Brooke hasn’t improved too much in the ring or on the mic, and unless she’s a heel lackey like she was to Emma and Charlotte Flair, she’s bland and uninteresting as a character. She’s gotten more than her share of chances, but looks to be close to running out of them.
#8. Zack Ryder WWE Release
We should have known not to expect much when Zack Ryder seemingly kicked off a career rebirth after winning the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 32. While he did fairly well in tag team competition with the Hype Bros, that team has long been done, and neither he nor Mojo Rawley are regular performers on Monday Night Raw.
It’s been a long run in the WWE for Ryder, ever since his 2007 debut and first major (no pun intended) storyline as one of the “Edgeheads.” He’s far from being an old guy at 33, so perhaps he could take his talents to Impact or the indies and make up for the years of neglect from WWE’s creative powers that be.
#7 Alicia Fox WWE Release
She’s been a wedding planner, kayfabe clubber DJ Gabriel’s dance partner, been portrayed as crazy on more than one occasion, and now she’s one of Alexa Bliss’ lackeys, seemingly out of WWE’s doghouse after an altercation with Ronda Rousey’s husband, UFC fighter Travis Browne, during WrestleMania weekend. But how much more time does Alicia Fox have in the WWE?
At 32-years-old with over a decade’s experience in the WWE, Fox’s upside is severely limited at this point in her career. And with this year’s Mae Young Classic expected to produce a new batch of full-time WWE hires, Fox may be one of multiple female talents WWE could deem surplus to their needs in the coming weeks.
#6 Bobby Roode WWE Release
Sad to say there’s nothing “glorious” about Bobby Roode’s WWE main roster run. WWE was making a big mistake from the get-go, when they booked Roode as a babyface after he did so well as a heel in NXT. While he did win the United States Championship on SmackDown Live soon after his main roster debut, he’s almost an afterthought these days on Monday Night Raw.
Given that he’s 41, Roode’s upside is seriously limited in the WWE, and if you ask us, he may be best served asking for his release and reuniting with fellow 41-year-old James Storm (who has yet to sign with WWE, despite previous expectations) for one last run as Beer Money in the independent scene.
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#5. The Ascension WWE Release
We’ve said it before – the “Wasteland” might as well be WWE’s euphemism for the unemployment line once they finally give The Ascension their pink slips. To be fair, they showed some unexpected abilities as comedic performers in their skits with Breezango (and on Southpaw Regional Wrestling), but with those skits now a distant memory, their main purpose is as enhancement talent for Raw’s tag team division.
Occasionally, WWE finds a way for struggling tag teams to become relevant again — take the B-Team and, before their return to irrelevance, Breezango, for example. Sadly, The Ascension seem to be too far gone to redeem at this point in their WWE runs.
#4. Mickie James WWE Release
Alexa Bliss might as well start looking for younger women to have her back and do her dirty work as Monday Night Raw’s preeminent female heel, because it’s not just Alicia Fox whom we expect to be due for a pink slip. Mickie James is in a similar boat, but unlike Foxy, who’s more likely to be part of a massive “future endeavors” class, James’ path out of the WWE could come in the form of her retirement.
Trish Stratus’ one-off return at the Evolution PPV notwithstanding, James is the second oldest female wrestler in the WWE and the oldest who still makes regular onscreen appearances. She was evidently brought back to put the younger women over, and that run is very likely to be ending soon.
#3 Luke Gallows And Karl Anderson WWE Release
They were huge stars in New Japan as two of the earliest members of Bullet Club. That’s why many were expecting great things when Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson signed with WWE in 2016. So far, all we’ve gotten is one unsatisfying run as Raw Tag Team Champions and a few other hope spots. Otherwise, they’ve been booked worse than that word Gallows often uses to describe their rivals — “nerds.”
As Gallows and Anderson’s contracts are reportedly expiring early next year, we’re guessing they’ll be making a return to New Japan soon enough, where they can be booked as legitimate butt-kickers instead of goofy tweeners who often lose when it counts the most.
#2. The Colons WWE Release
Yeah, you better believe they’re still employed by the WWE. Whether wrestling as faux-Mexican bullfighters, Puerto Rican timeshare salesmen, or simply as themselves, Primo and Epico Colon just haven’t been able to sustain much interest from the WWE Universe. That’s why it often boggles the mind as to how long they’ve managed to remain under the company’s payroll.
To their credit, Primo and Epico haven’t been the headache that their far better-pushed relative, Carlito, was in his six years with the WWE. Yet they’ve lasted about a year longer than Carlito had, despite their frequent lower-card status. Expect that to change soon. (Their employment status, that is, not their place on the card.)
#1. TJP WWE Release
What a difference a title loss makes. Great things were expected from WWE’s rebooted Cruiserweight Division and its inaugural champion, TJ Perkins. But after he lost the title to Brian Kendrick (who could also be released, but could also return to his old role as a trainer), he fell way down the cruiserweight power rankings, never to rebound as a top contender for the Cruiserweight Championship in the two years or so since then.
WWE tried turning him heel, tried shortening his name to TJP, then tried adding some shoot elements to his story arc by having him complain to 205 Live GM Drake Maverick about his lack of opportunities. Nothing seems to be working, so it might be time for TJP’s fans to enjoy him on WWE while he lasts.
#BONUS. Ronda Rousey Finally Leaving WWE
It appears that the Ronda Rousey era in WWE is ending sooner than expected. In the latest issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer reported that there is a “very good chance” that Rousey could be done with the company after WrestleMania.
According to Meltzer, the working idea is that Rousey will be finishing up at WrestleMania 35 in April. He added on Wrestling Observer Radio that her departure is imminent and everyone in the company is working with the mindset that she’s finishing up within the next couple of months.
Rousey joined WWE last year, appearing at the end of the Royal Rumble PPV. Her first major match was a tag match with Kurt Angle against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon at WrestleMania 34 last April. Even before her debut, Rousey said that she wanted to start having children soon.
“We’re ready to start having kids soon and I was thinking about what I’ve left unfinished in my life because I want to entirely focus on having kids when that time comes,” Rousey told Yahoo Sports in March of 2018. “I took a long look at my life and thought that if I don’t try and take a shot with the WWE, I would regret it for the rest of my life. I want to be an example to my kids about pursuing your dreams and being able to do anything. I guess this is my way of nesting and getting ready for children. I’m trying to prove to my unborn babies that they can accomplish any dream that they want to go after.”
In June of last year, WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair indicated that Rousey’s WWE deal was for one-year and that she “then wants to get out of there.” Flair said that Rousey wanted to have children and that she should be prepared to lose a potential match with his daughter, Charlotte Flair, at WrestleMania 35.
“In my humble opinion, if Rousey wants to elevate her status in the company she needs to go through The Queen and The Queen ain’t afraid of her, I got news for ya,” Flair said during a Q&A in Florida. “I just saw her deadlift 315 lbs and she can bench 205 lbs for 6 reps. She is gifted beyond belief. I’m not involved obviously in any of the thinking but if they’re ever going to put the women where they belong, this is the year because I think Ronda has only signed a one-year deal and then she wants to get out of there. She wants to have kids and all that. She just needs to be be prepared to lose. Not if sure if Ronda likes that.”
Sources with WWE told us at the time that Rousey was signed to a multi-year deal.
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