The WWE roster is constantly changing with new hires and released talent each year. Other promotions thriving have changed WWE’s philosophy on releasing performers as recently as they used to. WWE specifically doesn’t want their talents leaving the company to join AEW as they look to create a new movement in wrestling with their TNT television deal. Other promotions like New Japan and Impact Wrestling also have deep pockets to sign big names.
We will look at what life has been like for various wrestlers to get released from WWE over the past few years. These performers just didn’t have the correct timing to remain under contract with WWE moving forward. Many have improved their careers in new homes while others have struggled, and a few left the wrestling business completely. Find out what they are up with updates on twenty recently released WWE stars.
20 Big Cass
WWE quit on their huge plans to push Big Cass when he broke too many unwritten rules backstage. The firing came just a few days after Cass wrestle Daniel Bryan on PPV. Cass has struggled with various issues since leaving WWE. A recent instance of him getting kicked out of a locker room at PWS led to him taking time away from the ring.
19 Enzo Amore
The former tag team partner of Big Cass was also released when Enzo Amore got the boot from WWE. Enzo tried his luck as a rapper, but he seems to have slowed down from that role. Independent wrestling shows book Enzo to appear with few matches coming from the former WWE star since the release.
18 Eva Marie
WWE always viewed Eva Marie as a future star, but the lack of progression and eventual wellness policy violation ended her time in the company. Eva would get released and leave the wrestling business completely. Modeling and podcasting have become the main career paths for Marie outside of WWE.
17 Jack Swagger
The end of Jack Swagger’s time in WWE would see things improve for the better. Swagger started competing under his real name Jake Hager in Bellator as an undefeated MMA fighter. AEW signed him as well to become Chris Jericho’s current enforcer in the Inner Circle faction to great success so far.
16 Nick Miller
Former NXT star Nick Miller requested his release from WWE once it became apparent the TM-61 tag team was going nowhere. Under the name of Mikey Nicholls, he is now part of the New Japan roster. Rocky Romero inducted Nicholls into the CHAOS faction as NJPW is his wrestling home moving forward.
15 Rich Swann
The end of Rich Swann’s time in WWE would see him hit the free-agent market without much momentum. Swann rebounded by joining the Impact Wrestling roster when new management took over. Impact now uses Swann as one of the faces of the promotion in the X-Division with occasional heavyweight matches.
Dustin “Goldust” Rhodes getting his release from WWE worked out perfectly for the start of All Elite Wrestling. Cody Rhodes convinced his brother to join the company for their first major show Double or Nothing where the brothers had a classic match. Dustin is now an active wrestler and a backstage coach for AEW.
13 Sawyer Fulton
NXT did little of note with Sawyer Fulton outside of his short time in the Sanity faction. Life after getting his release would see Fulton get another opportunity in a wrestling stable. Impact Wrestling signed him to join Sami Callihan’s oVe faction thanks to their friendship during their time in NXT together.
The short return of Tajiri in WWE saw him join the cruiserweight division for 205 Live. An injury would cut Tajiri’s run short as both sides agreed to release him from his contract. Tajiri still wrestles full-time in Japan with the occasional North American appearance as he does not appear ready to retire just yet.
11 Darren Young
Darren Young getting released from WWE was a surprise after they seemed inclined to push him with a new character when Bob Backlund was his manager. The run of Young has been quiet since leaving WWE with the occasional match on the indie circuit. Young recently started writing more about wrestling as his path continues.
The often-underrated Emma was surprisingly released from WWE just days after an impressive PPV match against Asuka. Emma has continued wrestling for promotions like Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling after leaving WWE. Time will tell which promotion she chooses to make her full-time home as Emma is still freelancing for multiple companies.
9 Jim Ross
WWE terminated the contract of Jim Ross when he made it clear he wanted to return to the commentary booth full-time. AEW offered that opportunity to JR when he was an official free agent. Tony Khan made the decision to add Ross as the voice of the new company.
8 TJ Perkins
The lack of success for the cruiserweight division hurt many of the talents to sign with WWE for the project. TJ Perkins was one to fall behind and eventually get released from WWE. The career of TJP is still going today with recent runs in Impact Wrestling and New Japan.
7 Tye Dillinger
The decision to grant Tye Dillinger’s release would see WWE give up on him after the strong run in NXT. Dillinger would sign a deal to join AEW and eventually enter a feud with Cody Rhodes. AEW is making Dillinger one of their top heels under the name of Shawn Spears.
6 Eric Bischoff
Eric Bischoff’s return to WWE only lasted a few months. The deal to run Smackdown fell apart as Bischoff was fired just weeks into the Smackdown on Fox project. Bischoff is still hosting his 83 Weeks podcast and is trying to run his television production company away from wrestling.
5 Dean Ambrose
WWE and Dean Ambrose agreed to part ways when Ambrose’s time ended in the fall. Despite the high level of success achieved, Ambrose had no desire to wrestle for WWE again. Under the name of Jon Moxley, he is now one of the top AEW stars and gets to make the occasional New Japan appearance.
Rhyno claimed he was the one that desired to get released from his WWE contract. The free-agent quickly signed a deal to return to Impact Wrestling as an upper card performer. Rhyno still has the passion to compete with frequent matches in Impact compared to never getting television time in WWE.
3 Summer Rae
The stunning look and impressive charisma of Summer Rae would never see her potential fulfilled in WWE. Summer was released with little fanfare after recovering from an injury. The post-WWE life for Rae sees her mostly modeling along with the occasional wrestling convention appearance signing autographs and taking pictures.
2 Hideo Itami
WWE granted Hideo Itami his release when the Japanese star wanted a change. The run in NXT never worked out when he suffered a few injuries when he did have momentum. Itami signed with New Japan under his old ring name of KENTA and is now part of the Bullet Club faction.
Former WWE star Neville was sitting at home for many months after requesting his release from the company. WWE eventually did let him go and he had a great run in Japan’s Dragon Gate. Neville now works for AEW as a top heel under the name of PAC. The incredible work shows just how much he wanted out of WWE to showcase his potential again.