The opportunity to perform for World Wrestling Entertainment is a dream job for any professional wrestler in the world. WWE is the biggest and most successful wrestling organization on the planet and its influence reaches nearly every country on Earth, something which can’t be said for other companies such as New Japan Pro Wrestling. The exposure one can get from this grand stage is unspeakable and the chance to perform at this level can have an athlete set for life.
Unfortunately, WWE is a case where the supply stops quite short of meeting the demand. There are only so many spots to go around, even with WWE now running multiple popular brands between Raw, SmackDown Live, and NXT. The company continues to reach around the globe for talent with tournaments such as the one which recently scoured the United Kingdom in order to crown its first ever WWE United Kingdom Champion, yet still, many wrestlers find themselves out of luck.
Of course, it isn’t always the young stars who can’t seem to carve out a niche for themselves in WWE who end up traveling down completely unrelated career paths. There have been plenty of well-established personalities who have left WWE in search of a major change. Though many of these former WWE employees have found great success after stepping out of the ring, there’s no doubt that the occasional retiree has been very unpredictable in choosing their line of work. Here are fifteen former WWE stars who retired in recent years and embarked upon very interesting new endeavors.
15. Kharma – Appearing on Netflix Show
In the grand scheme of things, Kharma was only around in WWE for about the span of a cup of coffee. In the era of “Divas,” however, she was a brief beacon of hope for those who had wanted change so badly in the portrayal of female athletes in WWE and she became one of only a few women to ever compete in the annual Royal Rumble match. Outside of WWE, though, she is known interchangeably as Awesome Kong and Amazing Kong, and she has been a huge star on the independent circuit for many years and saw her greatest success as one of the original members of Total Nonstop Action Wrestling’s women’s division.
The talents of the woman behind the character, Kia Stevens, are not limited to professional wrestling. She isn’t technically retired from the ring but she seems to be less active in the business today and is focusing on starting up an acting career. That in itself isn’t too out there, but her first role is pretty interesting, as she’ll be playing a part in a new wrestling-based Netflix comedy titled GLOW which is based off an old women’s wrestling organization of the same name.
14. Cameron – Anti-Bullying Campaign + Acting
Ariane Andrew began performing under the ring name Cameron at a time when women were still referred to as “Divas” in WWE and all that was expected of them was to be able to look good and smile for the camera. She did those things well, but Cameron never seemed to get down the physical side of wrestling. She was an incredible dancer and that’s where her strengths lied as she often performed alongside Naomi in the tandem known as the Funkadactyls, but when Naomi’s natural athletic gifts saw her break out on her own Cameron was left in the dust with a quickly failing singles career.
Just when it seemed she might have been breathing new life into her in-ring work by returning to NXT to train, Cameron’s wrestling days came to a screeching halt when she was released in 2016. Since leaving WWE, Cameron has embarked upon a career fighting bullying with her campaign “Wrong #” and she has been looking to kickstart an acting career. She is starting a new TV show on Extra TV called “Two on Where” where she travels around to a new city for each episode.
13. Raquel Diaz – Stage Performer at Universal Studios Orlando
If the name Raquel Diaz doesn’t ring any bells, perhaps her real name, Shaul Guerrero, might trigger something. Shaul is the daughter of former WWE star Vickie Guerrero and WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero and, at one time, it seemed as though she might carry on the legacy of her parents and their family name through following in her father’s footsteps inside the ring. She trained with WWE’s developmental territory NXT for some time before taking some time away for an apparent eating disorder but was eventually released from her contract.
Guerrero married WWE Superstar Aiden English shortly after leaving the company, but that would be her last remaining connection to the business. Her career shifted gears when she began studying to be a veterinarian, but things got even more interesting when she became a stage performer with Universal Studios Orlando. While this Guerrero may not be building her legacy inside a wrestling ring, she’s certainly remaining busy.
12. JTG – Wrote Two Books
Just in case you don’t remember the former WWE Superstar by the name JTG, he is mostly famous for his time as one-half of the Tag Team known as Cryme Tyme alongside his partner Shad Gaspard. The team was known for its excessive use of over the top African American stereotypes, but the two nonetheless became a huge hit as protagonists. Once the team had faded into obscurity JTG remained a singles competitor and became something of a running joke among internet fans for how long he managed to fly under the radar and avoid a release despite the fact that he was almost never used on television.
In 2014, however, the hammer finally dropped on JTG’s WWE career when he was released from his contract with the company. Though he’s technically not fully retired from wrestling, he has been largely out of the spotlight since then except for the books he wrote titled DAMN! Why Did I Write This Book? and DAMN! Why Did I Write This Book Too?
11. Eve Torres – Teaches Self-Defense
The Diva Search competition wasn’t something that earned a whole lot of respect among the WWE Universe. It was a construct which effectively destroyed the company’s women’s division for many years by serving as a vehicle for hiring models who didn’t have an athletic bone in their bodies and expecting them to perform as combatants in a wrestling ring, but when Eve Torres won the final televised incarnation of the tournament in 2007 she exceeded all of the expectations.
Torres was beautiful, charismatic, and athletic to the point that she took to the physical side of the wrestling business easily. She was at the center of many big storylines and won the Divas Championship multiple times before retiring from WWE in 2013. Following her tenure with the company, she married famous jiu-jitsu practitioner Rener Gracie, with whom she has given birth to a child. She still uses her impressive athletic body to good use and now teaches self-defense classes to women.
10. Sarah Backman – Became a Real Estate Broker
Unless you’re an avid follower of WWE’s super popular developmental brand, NXT, you likely had no idea someone by the name of Sarah Backman was ever under contract with the company. Before signing her contract to begin training as a WWE Superstar, Backman was a noted arm wrestler and fans hoped she would be bringing some strength and intensity into the ring with her, which at the time was very much needed in a fluffy and uncompetitive Divas division. She was all set to be a sort of modern Beth Phoenix when she decided in 2014 that professional wrestling was simply not for her.
Backman, who had received the ring name Shara, asked for her release from WWE and it was granted. A little-known fact is that Backman went on to marry into the famous Rotunda wrestling family when she wedded current WWE Superstar Bo Dallas, which also makes her the sister in law of the “Eater of Worlds” Bray Wyatt. But what is perhaps more surprising is that, following her brief WWE career, Sarah Backman went on to work as a real estate broker.
9. Vickie Guerrero – Medical Administrative Field
She was one of the best heels the wrestling business has ever seen because all she had to do was attempt to speak in order to get the boiling hatred of the audience to a point where they were jeering her out of the building, but Vickie Guerrero was nonetheless seen as a treasure. Fans booed her because booing her was incredibly fun and no one gave a better reaction to it than her. The widow of the late WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero will no doubt one day have a seat reserved all to herself in the Hall of Fame thanks to her contributions to countless WWE segments over the course of her tenure.
Whether her style of entertainment appealed to you as a fan or not, there was no denying Vickie Guerrero’s commitment to playing her part well. She did every embarrassing thing Vince McMahon asked of her better than anyone else could have done it, but after many years as a consistent member of the WWE team, Guerrero left the company in 2014 for the much different medical administration field.
8. CM Punk – Writing Comics For Marvel
Between his multiple WWE World Heavyweight Championship reigns, one of which was the longest in decades, and his controversially outspoken nature, CM Punk became one of the most famous professional wrestlers in the entire world. His first few years with WWE weren’t all that impressive as his numerous tattoos and smaller frame saw to it that he was not the company’s idea of a big time Superstar, but his fans were so vocal that the company had no choice but to eventually cave to the demands of the consumers and CM Punk was made into one of WWE’s most notorious success stories.
With all of his accomplishments in the realm of professional wrestling and his mixed martial arts endeavors following his WWE tenure, it was surprising for his fans to learn that his personal interests had led him down a totally unique career path when he began writing comic books. Apparently, he’s been quite successful in that arena, too, and continues to work on projects for Marvel.
7. Kendall Skye – Is an Actress
Another personality you’re likely only to have heard of if you’re a big NXT fan is Kendall Skye. As a matter of fact, even the most hardcore fans of the weekly WWE Network developmental program might only have briefly heard of this former Diva, as she asked for and was granted her release almost as fast as she signed her contract. Kendall was thin, blonde and beautiful, the only necessary criteria at the time for a woman to enter the world of WWE and find success, but apparently she didn’t feel that her calling was within the confines of a pro wrestling ring.
Kendall Skye’s real name is Kendra Smith, and following her departure from WWE and NXT, she delved into the world of acting. She is active on Twitter, keeping her fans up to date on her current projects one being her role on the real estate comedy Bajillion Dollar Properties.
6. Kaitlyn – Owns a Fashion Line + Smoothie Bar
It probably can’t be said that Kaitlyn, whose real name is Celeste Bonin, was a part of the modern women’s wrestling revolution. Kaitlyn retired from the ring in 2014, which was just before women like Paige, Emma, Charlotte Flair, and Sasha Banks began making the earliest waves in NXT’s women’s division. However, she did come along at a time when a certain athleticism and strength was missing from the from the Divas scene in WWE, and that gave her an opportunity to carve out her own spot with an on-screen rivalry with her real life best friend, AJ Lee, and a reign as the Divas Champion.
After her retirement, Kaitlyn noted that she considered herself finished with the wrestling business and went on to focus on her fitness career. Today, instead of knocking other women’s heads off their shoulders she is working on her own fitness clothing line called Celestial Bodiez and owns a smoothie bar in Florida with her husband.
5. Kelly Kelly – On Reality Show WAGS
Another woman who certainly played no part in the women’s division we know today was Kelly Kelly, however, she was certainly a beacon of charisma and a different kind of success during her time inside the wrestling ring. During a time when the female Superstars in WWE were still called Divas and were forced to participate in a softer, bubbly style of combat so as to not outshine the men on the roster, Kelly Kelly took the ball and ran with it. Her looks and character won over the hearts of the WWE Universe and her run with the Divas Championship solidified her WWE tenure as a big accomplishment.
Unfortunately, her time in WWE was all too short if you ask her fans. Kelly, whose real name is Barbie Blank, came into WWE with no prior experience and her interests in modeling and acting eventually won out when she decided to retire from the business a few years ago. Today she’s on the cast of the E! reality television series WAGS, which follows the lives of women who are dating or are married to famous sports figures.
4. Ted DiBiase, Jr. – Buys and Sells Textbooks
The “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame with the class of 2010 in recognition of all of his contributions to the world of professional wrestling throughout the 1980s and ‘90s. He was one of the finest performers of his time, but his son, Ted DiBiase, Jr., was not destined to find the same level of excellence. That isn’t to say that his time was all bad; in fact, DiBiase, Jr., was a member of the very popular heel stable known as Legacy alongside Cody Rhodes and Randy Orton, and he even won a couple of Championship titles during his tenure. However, in 2017 most fans have largely forgotten all about him.
Upon retiring from professional wrestling a few years back, this son of a Hall of Famer embarked upon a very interesting new career path. It was reported that he would be involved in the e-commerce field, working closely with a website that buys textbooks from college students and then sells them to other students.
3. Devin Taylor – CEO Of Dating App For Special Needs Users
If you’ve watched much NXT over the past couple of years you’re very likely to be familiar with Devin Taylor, a beautiful young lady who was a backstage interviewer on the weekly WWE Network program for an extended period of time. Dana Brooke would frequently pat Taylor on the head in a demeaning fashion and it was teased that Taylor would eventually step into the ring to wrestle her. However, if you watched the WWE Network program Breaking Ground you know that Devin would never get the chance as she was released in the middle of her training.
She landed on her feet, though. Taylor, whose real name is Brittany Fetkin, seems to have remained positive and active since her release. In one of the more unique career paths for a former WWE employee, Fetkin is now the co-founder and CEO of OAKDate which is a dating app for special needs users.
2. AJ Lee – Works with Animal Rights Charities + Author
If you don’t know the name AJ Lee, then you’re either a new professional wrestling fan or you simply haven’t been paying attention over the years. Up until a couple of years ago Lee was undoubtedly the most popular female Superstar, then known as “Divas,” on the entire roster. Her wrestling skills were far ahead of most of her female coworkers at the time, but her love of the business and girl next door quality are what really saw her connect with the general audience. Of course, it certainly helped that, much like her real life husband CM Punk, she was always incredibly outspoken.
As fans are aware, AJ Lee completely disappeared from the wrestling scene upon retiring from WWE. She has remained incredibly busy, however, as she has been working on her own autobiography entitled Crazy in my Superpower which is due out this year. Surprisingly, this former ass kicker has also made a career out of working with animal rights charities.
1. Mason Ryan – Cirque du Soleil
Wrestling fans of the time may remember that, throughout 2011, there was a WWE Superstar named Mason Ryan who seemed to be riding a rocket ship straight to the top of the wrestling industry, as the company really made him out to be a big deal. Soon after his debut on Raw, he was inducted into the very popular, albeit villainous, stable known as The Nexus. Throughout his time on TV he worked closely with huge names like CM Punk, Kane, Big Show, Randy Orton and John Cena, but his staying power proved to be nonexistent as the following year he found himself demoted to NXT.
It seemed as though NXT would give a boost to his quickly failing WWE career but after a couple more years it became clear that Mason Ryan had peaked in the professional wrestling industry and he was released. However, no one could say he rested on his laurels. Ryan is now finding success in perhaps the most unique of careers as a member of Cirque du Soleil.