The professional wrestling business is an industry that has plenty of turnover across multiple organizations. Take World Wrestling Entertainment as just one example. The WWE has weekly Raw and SmackDown programs, monthly “special events” that serve as pay-per-view shows for those who are not interested in signing up for the WWE Network, and also the NXT brand that is both a developmental property and also a weekly program for WWE Network subscribers. Even a company with so many hours of weekly programs can only feature so many wrestlers at a time, and thus there is a revolving door for talent to enter and also leave.
It is thus understandable that you would forget about certain performers that you would swear you recently saw working for what is the largest pro wrestling company in the world and also a media giant. This is especially true for certain members of the so-called WWE Divas Division, one woman in particular who left the company on her own terms and who probably will not be coming back to the WWE anytime soon. One cannot help but assume that she would have been a major part of the “Divas Revolution” that is currently taking place in the WWE had she not walked away from the wrestling industry. Oh, what could have been.
20. Corey Graves
There will soon come a time when it is forgotten among casual fans that Corey Graves was ever a wrestler. That is not at all a knock on the former in-ring worker who had to retire because of concussions. Graves has quickly become an entertaining feature of NXT shows as a color commentator, and he has been a fixture on other WWE Network shows. While it is a shame that Graves will not be able to live out his dream as a worker capable of winning the WWE Championship, Graves has found himself a home at the NXT announce desk. The sky is the limit for the talented commentator.
19. Evan Bourne
Evan Bourne was Adrian Neville before Neville ever appeared in NXT or on the main WWE roster. Bourne was a crowd favorite because of his high-flying abilities, but he allegedly struggled following the company’s rules regarding what he could put into his body. That fact along with an injury made Bourne a forgotten man among WWE audiences before he and the company parted ways in 2014. Bourne has since reverted back to the Matt Sydal name that he used before he was ever introduced to WWE audiences, and it is widely believed that he will not receive another chance from the company anytime soon.
18. Curt Hawkins
There was a time when Curt Hawkins was a member of a WWE tag team that included Zack Ryder. Ryder used the Internet to get himself over among fans and earn himself a United States Championship run, and he is now back in NXT as part of the Hype Bros. Hawkins, meanwhile, became a forgotten performer while he was still a member of the WWE roster. Those days came to an end in June of 2014, but Hawkins is still pursuing a living in the industry. He has worked in TNA Wrestling in 2015, and he is one of several former WWE performers to be on the roster of Global Force Wrestling.
17. Yoshi Tatsu
There are several reasons why Yoshi Tatsu was never going to be featured in WWE main events feuding with wrestlers such as John Cena, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar. With that said, Tatsu was an above-average in-ring performer who was quietly putting on entertaining matches on shows such as NXT up through 2014 when he was released from the company. Talented wrestlers such as Tatsu being released from contracts makes one wonder if the WWE would be wise to open up a second edition of NXT, perhaps one that was located on the west coast of the United States, so performers could remain signed by the company.
It would probably be best for everybody involved if the tag team that wrestler JTG was once in while in the WWE would be forgotten as quickly as possible. The Cryme Tyme gimmick was questionable, at best, and downright racist in the eyes of some critics, to the point that the idea would likely be scrubbed by higher ups in the WWE before it ever saw the light of day in 2015. The team that now goes by “Crime Time” has made appearances outside of the WWE. Neither one of those men can be blamed for capitalizing on the names they made for themselves while working for such a massive company.
15. Davey Boy Smith, Jr.
The son of the “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith and member of the Hart wrestling family was a tag team champion in the WWE for a time. Smith would eventually be relegated to shows such as Superstars before being released from the company, and he would later say in interviews that he lost some of his passion for the business while working in the WWE. While North American wrestling fans may have forgotten about Smith, he is not out of the business. Smith is enjoying life overseas as a member of New Japan Pro Wrestling, and he is also scheduled to be a part of Global Force Wrestling.
14. Percy Watson
The WWE sometimes does not know what it has in a talent. Percy Watson was arguably the best part of the second season of the original NXT brand, an energetic and personable character in segments and a decent in-ring performer. Watson needed some development, sure, but there was never a time during his run in the WWE when he looked like a lost cause. The company nevertheless threw in the towel on Watson in 2013, and he has never again been seen on WWE television. It is hard to imagine that Watson could not find a spot on the current version of the NXT brand.
13. Zahra Schreiber
Can one be forgotten if she was not all that well known among casual wrestling fans? We may be about to find out. Zahra Schreiber was being given a chance to work her way through the WWE when she was released by the company for what were referred to as “inappropriate and offensive remarks” in the summer of 2015. This would not be all that big of a deal except for one thing: She is, as of the posting of this piece, the girlfriend of WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins. Trouble may be brewing for Mr. Rollins and soon if he does not consider reevaluating some life decisions.
Kaitlyn was a body fitness champion who had been featured in magazines before she signed for the WWE. She worked hard to make her way through the developmental territories, most notably in NXT, before she was given an opportunity to perform on the main WWE roster. Kaitlyn even won the Divas Championship on a single occasion. In 2014, she announced that she was leaving the WWE and retiring from the wrestling industry, in general, to pursue other interests. She has not since worked in the company, and there is no reason to believe she will ever return to the WWE.
11. Mason Ryan
Mason Ryan seemed to have everything that those running the WWE would want from a future superstar. Ryan is a massive man who has a good look and the bodybuilder physique had by the likes of John Cena and Triple H. There were just two problems: Ryan was not very good inside of the ring, and he may have been even worse on the microphone. Try as the WWE did to turn Ryan into a capable worker while he was in NXT, that day never arrived. Ryan is now a forgotten wrestler who is apparently still giving it a go in independent promotions. Best of luck.
10. David Otunga
The former member of the original NXT program and the Nexus faction does not, financially speaking, need to work as a wrestler. David Otunga is, as has been discussed in numerous WWE segments, legitimately an attorney, and he also happens to be married to music superstar Jennifer Hudson. It has been some time since Otunga worked as an in-ring performer, and he has spent some time as a host for WWE Network shows. He has mostly become a forgotten character, though, and it would not be surprise if you wouldn’t notice if Otunga was released by the WWE before the end of the year.
9. Drew McIntyre
Those who read websites dedicated to covering pro wrestling may remember that journalists such as Dave Meltzer once claimed that Drew McIntyre was deemed to be a pet project of none other than WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. McIntyre would never become a main event character while working in the company, but he did find his feet and create many entertaining moments as a member of the 3MB group. That faction was broken up in June of 2014 when McIntyre was one of many roster cuts made by the WWE. He now works as Drew Galloway in TNA Wrestling, not that anybody would notice at this point of that company’s existence.
8. Kassius Ohno
Casual WWE fans who caught editions of NXT a couple of years ago will remember the name Kassius Ohno. The majority of diehard wrestling followers, however, know the man as Chris Hero, a wrestler who made a name for himself working in multiple independent promotions and who has won championships in organizations such as Ring of Honor. What exactly happened when Ohno was on the verge of making his way up to the main WWE roster is somewhat of a mystery, but it was suggested by some insiders that he became frustrated with his position in the company. Here is hoping that WWE fans will again see him at some point in the future.
7. Brodus Clay
Brodus Clay seemed to be the next big monster in waiting when he was working his way up through the WWE developmental process, most notably during his time in NXT. Things changed, though, when the massive Clay was turned into The Funkasaurus, a character who danced before, during and after matches. The idea soon grew old among WWE audiences, and Clay left the company in June 2014. He moved on to TNA Wrestling, and ratings for that show would indicate that the majority of wrestling fans have forgotten that he is still active in the business.
There was allegedly a time when the WWE had high hopes that Aksana could become one of the top Divas in the company. That, of course, not only never occurred. The fitness model and bodybuilder never came close to being among the best women’s performers in the WWE. Fans last saw Aksana work for the company in 2014, and she has since become a forgotten performer. Those who were fans of the Aksana character can always remember those days when she was aligned with Alicia Fox for the “Foxsana” duo. That team may not have been stellar, but the name was nothing short of fantastic.
5. Ted DiBiase Jr.
It was not all that long ago when Ted DiBiase Jr. was featured in a main event storyline alongside Cody Rhodes and Randy Orton. That faction even feuded with the D-Generation-X team of Shawn Michaels and Triple H. DiBiase was not long for the WWE once his time in Legacy came to an end, however, and after attempting to get himself over via an online campaign that included the “DiBiase Posse” idea, he walked away from the company. DiBiase has, by all accounts, decided that a career in the WWE is not something he would again pursue in the future.
4. Adam Rose
The WWE website claims, as of September of 2015, that Adam Rose is still a member of the company’s roster. Fans who watch only Raw and SmackDown would not know that to be true. Rose had apparently turned from babyface to heel during the early stages of the summer months, and there was even a time when the character was going to, per storylines, make a revelation about his future. That moment still has not occurred, and it is almost as if the WWE has forgotten about the wrestler who was, in 2015, one of the main focuses of an ESPN documentary that showcased multiple NXT performers.
Nobody could blame you if you did not realize that Layla retired from the wrestling industry earlier this year. She had already become a forgotten commodity in the WWE before that announcement was made via the company’s website. The former WWE Women’s Champion had not been a featured worker on main television shows for the majority of 2015, and those who do not pay for the WWE Network likely did not see much of her during what was to be her final year in the company. She has now moved on to other endeavors, and we all offer our best wishes to her.
2. CJ Parker
There are some gimmicks and characters that are going to fail to get over even with the Full Sail crowds who watch the NXT tapings whenever they occur. CJ Parker is one of these. The initial idea of Parker being a babyface who seemingly emerged out of the 1970s was silly, but the WWE nevertheless stuck with it and had Parker turn heel on fans who were, in the character’s eyes, ruining the environment. Fans didn’t take it seriously, and Parker requested his release from the company. He is still working in the industry under his former “Juice Robinson” name.
1. A.J. Lee
It is a matter of “here one day, gone the next” for some within the professional wrestling industry, and A.J. Lee is an example of this. A.J. performed at WrestleMania 31, and all indications as far as the public knew were that she was fully recovered from a neck injury and that she was ready to resume her WWE career. Less than a week later, she was gone from the WWE and from the wrestling business following her retirement. The real-life spouse of CM Punk had obvious reasons for wanting to walk away from the WWE, and fans should not hold their breaths waiting for her to make a return.