An issue many wrestlers have a hard time dealing with is what to do once their time with the WWE is up. This article features 15 recently released wrestlers and shows the different paths they took once they were released, or decided to quit the company. As you might imagine, most wrestlers stay in the business because of lack of opportunity; although for others, this is not the case. When one door closes another opens for some wrestlers. Despite their dreams (sometimes) being shattered, it is not the end of the road, as some attempt to improve their gimmicks and craft by wrestling for other companies. Some of the wrestlers in this list have done just that and have been very successful thus far. Others have taken other routes, away from the wrestling business. Some have found God and want to make a difference everyday in giving to the community, while others are simply retired, doing modelling work or instructing self defense classes. Let us now take a look at what these 15 recently released superstars are up to today. Enjoy!
15) Ted DiBiase Jr.: Entrepreneur
Despite a promising future, Ted DiBiase Jr. decided to leave the wrestling business after he fell out of love with it. DiBiase claimed he lost himself as a human being and couldn’t look at the person he had become in the mirror any longer. Despite all of his success and popularity, DiBiase was simply unhappy with the person he had become, so he decided to not resign with the WWE. A real gutsy move by Ted Jr. who had no real financial backing once his contract was up. He simply claims he found the lord and it was time to move on. Since leaving the WWE, DiBiase has been a great leader for various charities such as “Warrior Bonfire”, which is a non-profit organization aiding wounded veterans. DiBiase has also been extremely active with a number of other non-profit charitable organizations. Props to DiBiase for all his great charity work since leaving the pro wrestling business.
14) Kelly Kelly: Model
What started off as a run as just another pretty face, actually surprised many with how it turned into somewhat of a success story. Kelly began her run as eye candy dancing on the ECW stage. Despite the unpopularity of the brand, her segments which featured the Diva pole dancing were actually quite successful gathering some decent ratings. The WWE later used her dancing success in the ring, giving her an improbable run with the Divas Championship. In September of 2012, the WWE announced her release. She later revealed thst it was her idea to leave the company in order to fully heel from a neck injury and pursue a career in modelling.
Going by the name Kelly Kelly (or her real name Barbra Blank), the former WWE Diva is now a full time model. You can look at her recent work through Kelly’s Instagram page under her new alias, Barbie Blank. Her most noticeable piece of modelling work was making the coveted cover of the renown Maxim magazine. The 28 year old is also available for bookings through her email.
13) Matt Striker: Commentator for Lucha Underground & Global Force Wrestling
Transitioning from the classroom into the ring, Striker tried to use this as a gimmick to get over in the WWE. His in-ring ability was clean and fine at the WWE level, he just failed to develop a serious connection with the WWE universe and never won any championships throughout his run. He would surprisingly fair much better as a commentator for the company, using his clever wit during matches as a color commentator.
Many were very surprised (including myself) when the WWE decided against extending the contract of Matt Striker, in June of 2013. Striker found himself in a promising role as a full time commentator for the WWE (a job he did in my view, better than most of the current commentators in the WWE today). Despite not being resigned, Striker quickly found work in the independent scene. He later signed on with “Lucha Underground” as a lead announcer. Striker also teamed up with the legendary voice of Jim Ross, as a part of a show which took place in the Tokyo Dome for Global Force Wrestling (Jeff Jarrett’s new wrestling promotion).
12) Derrick Bateman: Wrestler for TNA Wrestling
It’s not very often that the WWE passes on a young promising talent, but in this rare case, that’s precisely what they did. Hutter wrestled for NXT under the name of Derrick Bateman, and was coached by Daniel Bryan. Despite his potential, Hutter never caught heat in NXT and was later released from his contract in May of 2013. Although he was released, Hutter continued to work at a high level and eventually made his debut for TNA wrestling under the name of Ethan Carter III. Since debuting in October of 2013, Ethan is still remarkably undefeated. ECIII is set to take on Kurt Angle for the World Heavyweight Championship at “Slammiversary.” This is definitely a chance for ECIII to be the new face of TNA. Kudos to Hutter for finding success outside of a WWE ring.
Still so young, the WWE is surely considering bringing him back into the fold under his new and improved ECIII gimmick. With the brand extension on the horizon and a strong need for a good heel, look for Bateman to probably rejoin the WWE ranks sooner rather than later.
11) Jillian Hall: Available For Bookings
In an era where Divas wrestling struggled to find relevancy, Jillian actually managed to gain some heat with the WWE universe using an annoying songstress gimmick which did endure some success as a comedic gimmick. She would further this by having an improbable run with the Divas Championship, a highlight in her WWE run. In November of 2010, the WWE would opt to not resign her, and this would be the end of her run with the company.
After a brief stay with TNA wrestling, Jillian decided to step away from the ring and announced her retirement on January 21st, 2014. Since she retired, Hall has been caught in a couple of unfortunate situations, one of which took place on April 10th, when Jillian was arrested for a DUI. Most recently, Hall was caught in another tough situation, when she was a victim of the “knockout game”. The vicious game is an attempt for a person to knockout a complete stranger with one punch. To Jillian’s credit, the attacker was not able to knockout the former WWE Diva and instead, ran away like a complete coward.
10) Drew McIntyre: Wrestles Independently & For TNA Wrestling
Despite being released from his contract with the WWE in June of 2014, Drew McIntyre, who now wrestles under his new alias Drew Galloway, focused on getting better as a performer and to not let his release end his dream of becoming a great pro wrestler. Drew took matters into his own hands and is currently working for various promotions, trying to create a legacy for himself as a wrestler outside of the WWE. In addition to wrestling for TNA, Galloway is also a part of Insane Championship Wrestling and Evolve Wrestling. Galloway is currently the champion for both promotions. Props to Drew for not letting his release get to him and working that much harder to perfect his craft as a pro wrestler. Like Cody Rhodes is attempting to do, Drew managed to add some much needed value to his brand name by reinventing himself outside of McMahon’s empire. His stock is surely higher than ever at the moment, so with some more experience and success under his belt, you can expect a return to the WWE in the future as a serious player starting perhaps in the NXT ranks.
9) Ashley Massaro: Autograph Sessions & Appearances
Despite some massive popularity after winning the Diva Search competition, Ashley flopped when it came time for her to thrive. Rushed into the mix, Massaro’s talent failed to transcend in a wrestling ring, the place where it really mattered. After a failed run which was going nowhere fast, the WWE announced her release from the company. She later announced that she was the one who actually asked for a release because of her daughter who was suffering from an illness at the time.
The 2005 Diva Search winner is still keeping busy in the world of wrestling by participating in autograph sessions and making appearances for various wrestling promotions. Just recently, Massaro took part in the Legends of Wrestling show which took place at Citi Field in New York. Massaro joined a star studded lineup featuring the likes of Goldberg, Rob Van Dam, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. Additionally, Massaro has kept busy modelling for Maxim, Flex and other magazines. She also appeared on the TV show Smallville and the reality show Survivor.
8) Davey Boy Smith Jr.: New Japan Pro Wrestling & Signed With Global Force Wrestling
Similarly to DiBiase Jr., David Smith failed to walk in his dad’s footsteps in the WWE. Though unlike DiBiase, Smith was released by the company. His stint with the WWE actually began on a promising note. Many believed he would achieve some serious success with the company early on, as it appeared he had the size and skill to do so. Smith broke out as a Tag Team wrestler using his name to his advantage, under a Hart Dynasty stable. He would enjoy instant success claiming both World Tag Team Championships and WWE Tag Team Titles alongside his partner, Tyson Kidd. Asides from making an impact as a Tag wrestler, Smith had a hard time making a name for himself on his own, and this led to his eventual demise. After creative lacked any sort of ideas involving his character, it was evident a release was to be followed. This is exactly what happened when WWE released Smith on August 5th, 2011.
After leaving the WWE, Smith worked independently for a while before finding a permanent home with “New Japan Pro Wrestling”. It was just recently announced that Smith will be joining Jarrett’s new wrestling promotion Global Force Wrestling. The announcement was made official May 6th.
7) Gail Kim: Wrestles for TNA
Many wrestling fans were extremely displeased in seeing Gail Kim’s talents go to waste late in her run with the WWE. Kim not only quit the company, but vowed to never wrestle for the WWE again. The former WWE Diva felt as though her talent was being completely wasted. She was pretty accurate when assessing her status with the company; according to rumors Vince McMahon just didn’t like Gail, and this is why she ultimately failed. At a point which saw the Divas division reach a new low in terms of wrestling quality, Kim was one of the only wrestlers that could have saved the division. After one run with the Women’s Championship the company decided to turn the other cheek and not prolong her success, despite her clearly being the best female wrestler on the roster.
Kim would later rejoin TNA and show the WWE how wrong they were in releasing her. In 2012, Gail took home the honors for Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s top female wrestler in the world. In addition to this, Gail became the first ever TNA Knockout Champion and holds the longest title reign in promotions history.
6) Brodus Clay: Wrestles for TNA Under Tyrus
After being shipped back to NXT for repackaging, Brodus Clay never made it back to the main roster and in June of 2014, he was released by the WWE. His run with the WWE eventually flopped despite his size and look. Instead of using his monstrous look the WWE instead went the other way taking a comedic approach to the wrestler, making him dance with the likes of Naomi and Cameron. After it was apparent that he wouldn’t reach high levels of success, the company tried to repackage the wrestler down in NXT. Failing to emerge from a pack of impressive prospects, Clay was finally released by the company in June of 2014, ending his run.
The former WWE star later made his debut for TNA in September of 2014, under his new name and gimmick “Tyrus”. Under his new gimmick, Tyrus is being used as an ally for Ethan Carter III. The former WWE star also appeared as the voice of “Danye East” for the YouTube cartoon series Trashville.
5) Eve Torres: Head Instructor of Gracie Women Empowered Self-Defense Program
With a Divas division struggling to find its image, Eve actually thrived at a point where female wrestlers were struggling. Torres went on an impressive run for the company winning the Divas Championship on three different occasions. She would further this success by joining The Authority. Her rise was quite evident and a big time bright spot for the company.
In January of 2013, Eve Torres wrestled her final match for the WWE. Despite speculation that she was released, it was later determined that Eve asked for a release the previous month. Her reason for leaving the company was so she could focus full time on her new venture, the “Gracie Women Empowered Self-Defense Program”. This program was inspired by her husband Rener Gracie, a 4th degree Jiu-Jitsu black belt. The program is doing extremely well, though Torres is set to take some time off after it was announced the couple are expecting their first child in September.
4) Evan Bourne: Wrestles Independently
Many wrestling fans were very displeased to learn about Evan Bourne’s dismissal from the WWE. A big reason for his release was due to the fact that the high flyer failed drug tests on two different occasions. His in-ring talent was quite obvious which is a big reason why he is so successful outside of the WWE today. The problem with his WWE run was the company’s ability to establish him as a big match Superstar, as opposed to a lower to mid-card kind of guy. His career highlights included one title run as a Tag Team wrestler alongside Kofi Kingston. Rather disappointing when you consider how obviously talented he was with the company.
After his release Bourne returned to the indy scene under his new name, Matt Sydal. The former WWE Tag team champion has worked for numerous promotions since leaving; promotions such as Dragon Gate, Ring of Honor and Family Wrestling Entertainment.
3) Maryse Ouellet: Actress
Maryse Ouellet now goes by her new name, Maryse Mizanin. Maryse married WWE star Mike Mizanin (aka “The Miz”), in late February of 2014. The couple currently lives together in Los Angeles. Maryse has been focusing on an acting career and making appearances for television and radio shows. The native of Montreal, Quebec, is currently working on two films: Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! and Karla. She also does realtor work on the side after earning her real estate license.
Surprisingly, on April 4th 2016, Maryse would make her unexpected return following WrestleMania. She would help her real life husband The Miz, capture the Intercontinental Championship from Zack Ryder. Her return did wonders for The Miz who became relevant in the WWE storylines after a year of a lower-card role constantly losing matches. He would resurface as the face of a stacked mid-card, cementing his success by defeating three other tremendous Superstars and extending his Intercontinental Title run in the process. Maryse’s return has done wonders for his career in the past couple of months, a career many thought would fade into irrelevancy and an eventual release. It remains to be seen if the Quebec native will make an in-ring return as a competitor at some point.
2) Chavo Guerrero: Wrestling for Lucha Underground
In June of 2011, Chavo Guerrero decided it was time to move on and requested a release from the company. Although he is mostly remembered for his work in the lower-card, Chavo had some memorable storylines with the likes of Rey Mysterio, which took his card level to new heights as prominent heel on SmackDown. Following Eddie’s passing, Chavo became a significant player for an extended amount of time putting on some memorable matches and partaking in some deep promos. His career highlights included an ECW Championship, along with four Cruiserweight title runs and two Tag Team Title reigns with Eddie Guerrero.
Chavo worked independently and later joined TNA wrestling. In 2014, Chavo joined Chikara wrestling and later Lucha Underground. After some time off, Chavo just recently returned to Lucha on June 10th by defeating Blue Demon Jr., the same wrestler that Chavo lost to on the debut episode of Lucha Underground.
1) Rey Mysterio: Wrestles for AAA
After Rey Mysterio’s contract had expired it was finally time for both parties to move on. Five days after his release, Mysterio made his long awaited return to AAA. Mysterio signed a deal with the promotion for the first time since 1995, where Mysterio also decided to change his name back to Rey Mysterio Jr. Controversy quickly struck Mysterio after a shocking death to Perro Aguayo, which occurred in the ring after taking a “619”. The autopsy showed that the wrestler had a heart attack after breaking his neck in the ring from Rey’s finisher. Mysterio took the news very badly and almost quit the wrestling business for good. Mysterio later returned, despite the horrific event and teamed with the “dream team” which featured former WWE star Alberto Del Rio, Myzteziz and himself. The trio defeated former WWE stars Matt Hardy, Mr.Anderson and Johnny Mundo (aka John Morrison) in the finals of the Lucha Libre World Cup Tournament. The event recently took place on May 24th. Check out Rey Mysterio’s new “Terminator” looking mask that undoubtedly gives the high flying superstar an edgy look.
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