The life of a wrestler is unlike any other domain. Particularly in the world of the WWE it can be there one minute and gone the next. Like these 15 Superstars on the list, the company can chose to part ways with you at any time ,even if you are under contract (they buyout the remainder of your deal).
Often times, the WWE releases the wrestler, however there are various examples of former Superstars parting ways with the company for different reasons. Some part ways to change career paths, while others like Cody Rhodes and Ryback, are upset with booking ideas and plan on resurfacing their brand value independently. Some thrive like Cody, while others fall as we’ve seen with the likes of Damien Sandown. Either way, you have to respect the life and risks these wrestlers take.
This article is going to give you an update on what these 15 recently released Superstars are up to today. Some are still pursuing the dream independently, while others are totally out of the business and developing dating apps (yes, that’s right). Regardless of what these Superstars are doing, we wish them the very best of luck. Now without further ado, here is an update on 15 recently released WWE stars and where they are now. Enjoy!
15. Ryback: Indie Circuit & Podcast Host
In the summer of 2016, it was finally revealed that Ryback would be parting ways with the WWE after a pretty lengthy run in the company which began back in 2005 while in development. After years down in the WWE’s territories, Ryback finally made the jump in 2010 as a member of the Nexus.
His WWE career was filled with ups and downs, ultimately both sides really didn’t see a future, although Ryback claims he left on his own terms. Following his release, Ryback joined the Indie circuit wrestling for various promotions including Northeast Wrestling and WrestlePro. Along with his activity in the ring, Ryback also makes various appearances at fan signings via wrestling conventions and other private meet and greets. Along with these projects, Ryback is also keeping busy launching his very own podcast. He recently made headlines on the show shooting on Triple H and his negativity towards himself earlier in his career.
14. Wade Barrett: Actor
The decision to leave a company as prestigious as the WWE requires a serious pair of you know what. Nowadays, unless you’re really established, wrestlers normally do not leave the company to pursue a career elsewhere.
But as you probably already know, Barrett was an exception and he chose to leave for a career elsewhere. Wade’s contract was set to end in the summer of 2016 and with the intent of not resigning, the WWE let him go earlier out of respect to the former WWE Superstar. Since his departure, Barrett has entered the acting field. His most recent project was alongside the WWE in the film Eliminators. He also remains very prominent in the UK working on several new projects today.
Along with acting, Barrett remains a popular face in the UK and still does the occasional meet and greet autograph sessions as well. He also hasn’t ruled out a WWE return in the future, so stay tuned for that as a possibility during the new year in 2017.
13. Lilian Garcia: Podcast Host
2016 was the years of many Superstar departures, but it was also the exit of another long time WWE employee. In the summer of 2016, Garcia officially parted ways with the company after a lengthy run which spanned all the way back to 1998, if you can believe it. Lillian decided to leave the company in order to attend her ailing father who was battling with multiple cancers.
Since her departure, Lilian remains upbeat about her future and she launched an impressive podcast called Making Their Way To The Ring. The show has featured a variety of former WWE Superstars including long time friend Trish Stratus, Torrie Wilson, Carlito Cool, Brie Bella and her most recent guest of honor, the master of the ‘619’ Rey Mysterio.
12. Hornswoggle: Indie Circuit
The award for the most random firing in 2016 has to go to Hornswoggle and his abrupt release which came out of the blue. Things went downhill for the little guy back in September of 2015 when he failed the Wellness Policy; at the time, he was one of the last Superstars you expected to see on such a list because of his role within the company. He was kept away from TV till that point and was finally let go of his contract in May of 2016.
Credit Hornswoggle however, the last Cruiserweight Champion has kept himself very busy since his departure wrestling around the world for promotions such as Global Force Wrestling, TNA and Chikara. He’s also toured the world appearing at various wrestling shows overseas. Along with his wrestling gig, Hornsowggle continues to be a mainstay at wrestling conventions and even comic conventions, posting various pictures on social media of himself with the fans. We praise Hornswoggle for staying active following his WWE release.
11. Brandi Rhodes: Indie Circuit
Lillian wasn’t the only interviewer to part ways with the company in 2016. The wife of Cody Rhodes, Brandi Rhodes followed suit by parting ways with the WWE despite her promotion as the mainstay announcer on Raw. What we didn’t know, was that Brandi was asking the WWE for an in-ring career, something the company wanted no part of for whatever reason. Brandi would get her wish granted and she was released by the WWE shortly after Cody in 2016.
She’s currently living her dream wrestling the Indie scene alongside her husband. The two have competed for various promotions including TNA, feuding with another wrestling couple, Mike Bennett and former WWE star Maria Kanellis. With added independent experience and brand value, we may see Brandi and Cody back in a WWE ring one day. For now, Brandi is loving the crucial experience she continues to gain on the Indie scene as an in-ring performer.
10. Sara Lee: Motherhood
No disrespect to Sara Lee who seems like an innocent soul, but she truly had no business winning the Tough Enough competition and it just showed how flawed the entire concept truly is. Despite her lack of strength and persona, Lee won the show much to the dismay of the WWE. While training for a potential future character, the WWE released Lee of her contract and instead signed Many Rose, the runner-up. A clear indication of how the company felt all along.
The experience wasn’t an entire fail for the Michigan native who met her current partner Wesley Blake. The two recently celebrated their one year anniversary and are expecting their first child to be born in the near future; a baby girl.
9. Damien Sandow: TNA Wrestling
WWE fans were irate when it was announced that Damien Sandown had been released by the company. Although he was barely on television during his departure, fans still saw huge potential and upside to his in-ring ability and persona.
Sandow took the release admirably and thanked the WWE for giving him the opportunity. Following his exit, he quickly hit the Indie scene appearing for various promotions, along with various pit stops at wrestling conventions around the United States. Soon after, he inked a permanent deal with TNA Wrestling changing his name to Aron Rex. Despite all of his time with the WWE, reviews are very mixed when assessing his time with TNA thus far. Many fans online claim he’s lost the magic with the B-rated wrestling promotion.
Nonetheless, Sandow is an important part of the show and still has some years left in him at the age 34. It’ll be interesting to see if the WWE will ever come calling again. What do you guys think, has that ship sailed?
8. Cameron: Acting & Fitness
Following her awful stint on Tough Enough in which she was mostly remembered for claiming that her favorite match was Alicia Fox against Melina, Cameron would somehow end up scoring a WWE contract.
Her run was quite awful and in 2016 the company finally put an end to her deal following some comments she made on social media. Ryback discussed equal pay in the wrestling business, and Cameron (no so smartly) agreed despite the fact that she was still under contract. She claims the WWE and herself parted ways for other reasons, but the facts indicate otherwise.
Nowadays, Cameron claims she’s retired from the wrestling business, although she still appears at various wrestling conventions and is said to be quite nice for what it’s worth. Along with the appearances, Cameron is in the best shape of her life and she’s exposing that strength as a fitness guru on various news platforms.
7. Adam Rose: Indie Circuit
Wrestling in South Africa and all over the world, Adam Rose finally realized his dream signing with the WWE back in 2010. The company really wanted things to work, but time and time again Rose would flop with a character. He gained a lot of momentum during the ESPN documentary for his life away from the ring, but he’d once again lose it all shortly after. He couldn’t make that connection.
Despite all that, the WWE never gave up on him until 2016. Due to an arrest based on a domestic violence dispute, Rose was immediately released by the company. This all took place while Rose was already suspended for violating the Wellness Policy. Following some time off, Rose re-entered the Indie circuit under a new look dawning a shaved head. He recently linked himself to a possible WWE return via his social media accounts but we’ve yet to hear anything of the sorts. At the age of 37, his time with the WWE is probably done forever.
6. Devin Taylor: CEO of OAKDate App
Not sure what was with the interviewers wanting to become wrestlers, but Taylor was yet another example. She worked as the backstage interviewer with NXT, but later opted for a role in the ring. After various nagging injuries, the NXT executives were forced to cut ties with the 28 year old youngster. Her release was seen on the WWE Network show Breaking Ground.
Following her release, Taylor remained humble and thanked the WWE for the opportunity despite her lack of in-ring experience. Today, she is known as Brittany Fetkin, her actual real name. Since leaving the WWE, Fetkin has decided to pursue a career outside of the wrestling business becoming the CEO of an app called OAKDate. The app is said to be meant for dating and friendship as well. If you’re lacking any of the two, you know who to call.
5. Bull Dempsey: Ring of Honor
Despite his plethora of experience independently, the WWE dropped the ball big time with Bull Dempsey who had the potential to be something special. Instead, the WWE slapped him on with one of the most generic personas you’d ever find along with a lazily booked comedic gimmick, Bull Fit. The young 28 year old was eventually released by the WWE after he turned down using the “Bull Fit” gimmick any longer and seriously, can you blame the guy?
Dempsey is currently resurfacing his brand value on the Indie scene under the name of Bull James, using his WWE name and his real-life name. Along with his Indie work, Bull made a shocking appearance at the Ring of Honor, Honor Rumble match. He was very impressive during the appearance and managed to stay till the final four. He’d go on to face ROH star Adam Cole in a losing effort just a couple of months back. At the age of 28, we wish the former WWE star all the best.
4. Justin Gabriel: Indie Circuit
Gabriel was a massive standout during The Nexus invasion angle and many assumed he’d do great things with the company. Fast-forward a couple of years later and he’s working alongside Adam Rose in a bunny costume. Safe to say the wheels fell off pretty quick following his initial push. After the WWE rejected his new persona idea as wolf-themed daredevil, Gabriel left for good and used that exact gimmick on the Indie scene (known as “The Darewolf” PJ Black).
He’s gathered some decent momentum with the gimmick, wrestling independently along with runs in TNA and Lucha Underground. He also remains active on social media as you can track his life outside of the ring on Instagram, along with everything in the ring on Twitter. Gabriel is also selling private messages for his fans via social media. If you need the former WWE star to give you a shutout, visit his Twitter page for more information.
3. Alex Riley: Actor
Despite the fact that the WWE didn’t really have any plans for Riley, he tried to push his cause via social media by using the tag #FreeRiley. Ultimately it did very little for his career and he just continued to trend downwards. Finally, in May of 2016 the WWE pulled the trigger on the Superstar and he was released by the company after a subpar journey.
Following his release, Riley completely changed career paths and opted to follow in the footsteps of Wade Barrett pursuing a career in Hollywood. He changed his name to Kevin Kiley Jr. (his actual name) and moved to Los Angeles in order to obtain more opportunities. As of now, he’s worked as a host and panelist since his time outside of the WWE and into the field of entertainment. It seems like his pro wrestling days are done with for the time being.
2. Cody Rhodes: New Japan Pro Wrestling
The curious case of Cody Rhodes took center stage in 2016 as one of the more controversial releases of the year. Given his love and passion for the business, Rhodes wanted out of his Stardust gimmick. After numerous failed attempts to pitch new concepts to the creative writers, Rhodes had enough and demanded a release.
Looking at his current body of work, Rhodes made the right decision and it isn’t even a question at this point. Cody has thrived independently wrestling the likes of Kurt Angle, along with facing a slew of talented opponents in ROH and TNA Wrestling. He recently took things a step further and joined New Japan Pro Wrestling forming a new relationship with the Bullet Club and becoming a member of the highly respected faction. Looking at his progress, it’s clear Rhodes has resurfaced his image and brand value. Don’t be too surprised if the WWE comes knocking in 2017.
1. Alberto Del Rio: Indie Circuit
How a wrestling can go from defeating John Cena in his return to being released shortly after is truly beyond us. The WWE can only blame themselves for their terrible booking of Alberto Del Rio during his comeback.
Upon his request, Del Rio wanted out and the WWE obliged. According to rumors, McMahon tried to keep the veteran, but ultimately, it wasn’t enough to sway his decision. Alberto wanted to re-kindle his love for wrestling and the WWE was just not in that place anymore.
Following his release, Del Rio hit the Indie scene wrestling with AAA Mexico and WWC. Along with wrestling gigs, Del Rio continues to make headlines with his partner Paige, as the two continue to be an item despite the WWE’s displeasures pertaining to the relationship. It seems like only a matter of time before WWE employee Paige joins her man on the Indie circuit. 2017 seems to be a fitting time for the switch.