When Jess McMahon and Toots Mondt partnered together in 1952 to create Capitol Wrestling Corporation Ltd., it is unlikely that either one thought that their little promotion would one day become the billion dollar company that it is today. World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. as it is now called, is the biggest wrestling promotion in the world, and has attracted many of the best wrestlers from around the globe. Throughout the decades and different eras, the WWE has produced hundreds of wrestlers, and even though many have had long lasting and sometimes iconic careers with the company, the same cannot be said about other wrestlers.
The likes of Hulk Hogan,“Rowdy” Roddy Piper, The Iron Sheik, Bret Hart, Triple H, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Ric Flair, The Undertaker, John Cena, and Randy Orton make up the upper echelon of superstars whose names will be remembered for all time throughout the industry. They are the types of wrestlers, whose style, appeal, skill, and work ethic, allowed them to become immensely popular with fans, which led to the WWE investing a lot of time and money in their careers. Then there are lesser big name wrestlers who make up the majority of the mid-card, who often times do provide enough popularity and financial return to warrant the WWE’s continued investment. Then there are superstars who find themselves at the bottom of the barrel, these are wrestlers who, sometimes through no fault of their own, have not been able to win over fans. These wrestlers often fail to connect with fans due to their unlikable gimmicks, lack of appeal, or genuine perceived lack of in-ring skill. No matter the reason though, if a superstar is unable to win over the fans, or the WWE sees no real future with the individual, than that wrestler will generally not last long within the company and get released. Here is a list of 10 wrestlers The WWE Will Release In 2016.
Viktor made his main roster debut on the last Raw of 2014, as one half of the tag team known as The Ascension. While in developmental, Viktor, along with his partner Konnor became a very dominant duo in NXT, going over with the crowds so much that they were arguably one of the most anticipated tag teams that fans wanted to see get called up. Unfortunately, when that call finally came, Victor and The Ascension simply crashed and burned, to the point that they are nothing more than a waste-of-space mid-card tag team. His partner Konnor still has the chance to be repackaged in the future, but Viktor, has not been able to show the personality, in-ring skills and promotional ability that would make Vince keep someone like him on the main roster. The way things stand now, it is highly unlikely that Viktor will be heavily pushed as a solo wrestler, and since The Ascension fell flat with audiences, it is hard to believe that Viktor will be able to hang around once another tag-team gets called up from NXT.
Goldust (otherwise known as Dustin Rhodes) made his debut in 1990 back when the WWE was still known as the WWF. He was a part of the company’s Attitude Era, which is considered by many to be the best time period of professional wrestling. During that time, Goldust’s sexual ambiguous and flamboyant gimmick was popular among fans, and still is to some degree today. That being said though, he is not all that important to the company anymore. This has become quite apparent since he has returned from a 2015 shoulder injury that kept him out of action for several months. Usually, when someone comes back from injury, they are given some sort of work for a couple of weeks, but he was not given much to do, and he was also not given any real mic time either. It is true that he has recently been a part of several funny backstage segments with R-Truth, who he may finally be getting back into in-ring action with a tag team partner; but even if they go on to become the division champions, 2016 will still likely be his last year with the company.
8. Curtis Axel
Curtis Axel had the benefit of being the son of Hall of Famer Mr. Perfect, but unlike his father, Curtis has not been able to capture any kind of adoration from the fans. His official debut did not get off to a good start (despite winning the Intercontinental championship), and when he re-debuted as Axel, he flopped even more despite being given a big push. He was then unable to get over while tag-teaming with Ryback, his Hulk Hogan impersonation gimmick was just embarrassing, and his claim about never being eliminated from the Royal Rumble went nowhere. He may now be a part of the recently formed Social Outcasts group, but since the group is comprised of other disliked wrestlers like Heath Slater and Bo Dallas, it is unlikely that he will gain any kind of push or popularity when the group is broken up. Triple H may like him, but Curtis has been given many chances now and has failed each time, and at some point there will be no more chances; and that time may likely be in 2016.
7. Adam Rose
When he was down in NXT, Adam Rose and his Exotic Express (a group of partiers also known as his Rosebuds) were well received by fans, unfortunately, when he came up to the main roster, that same reception did not follow him. Right from the beginning, Rose and his gimmick ran into trouble, with the much wider array of fans provided by the main roster’s audience, expressing little interest in them. Rose went on to do some really non-entertaining backstage segments, and then partnered with a member of his Rosebuds, a man in a rabbit costume, only to end up feuding with that same rabbit for a short time after that. The entirety of The Exotic Express disappeared shortly after that feud, and so did most of Rose’s initial act; which forced him to go from a guy who loved to party, to a party pooper. He even had a talk segment called The Rose Bush which was shortly lived, and amounted to nothing positive. Like Curtis Axel, Rose is now a part of The Social Outcasts, but with the longevity of that group likely to be very short, Vince might at as well bring up someone new in 2016 to take Rose’s spot instead of repackaging the 36 year old mid-carder.
6. Zack Ryder
After a stint in developmental, Zack Ryder debuted on the ECW brand as part of the Major Brothers tag team. After gaining a decent amount of success on ECW and Smackdown, Ryder went on to gain a lot more screen time after becoming a member of La Familia with then World Heavyweight Champion Edge. When the time came for Ryder to go solo, he was able to hold his own for a bit and then, with the help of YouTube, he quickly rose up the ranks and became part of the upper mid-card. His success only lasted a short few months however, as he quickly fell back into the deep dark hell that is the lower mid-card, after being “befriended and eventually buried in a confusing storyline with John Cena.” Since that storyline, Ryder has gone from at one point being one of the most popular superstars, to being kind of a laughing stock that always loses. Things have become so bad for Ryder that he has asked to be sent down to NXT, and when someone on the main roster basically asks to be demoted, it is a bad sign for that superstar’s future; a future that the company may simply not be invested in past 2016; a statement that is even truer today, now that the WWE made Ryder lose the Intercontinental Championship the very next night on Raw after winning it at WrestleMania.
5. The Dudley Boyz
In terms of greatest tag teams of all time, The Dudley Boyz are certainly in the conversation. Aside from being the most decorated team in WWE history, they were undoubtedly one of the two best teams throughout the Attitude Era. Ever since they left the company, fans have begged for them to reunite with WWE, and this past August, they got their wish when the duo officially returned. As expected, the team was very well received, and quickly went to work facing and defeating nearly every other team in the division. The problem though, is the fact that they went through virtually every team in a relatively short time, and do not have the championship belts to show for it. Lately, they have been on the losing end of all their feuds, and now that they are feuding with The Usos, it does not seem that they will be winning the belts anytime soon; and with that being the case, what would be the point (besides nostalgia) in keeping The Dudleys in such purgatory? It is true that they can be broken up and go solo like Bubba did in TNA, but with both nearing their mid-forties, it is unlikely that Vince will want to give either one a single’s push. With that being the case, it is possible, that without great booking, the future Hall of Fame team and their long-awaited return may be done by the time 2016 comes to an end.
4. Rosa Mendes
To be fair, Rosa Mendes is an attractive Diva, but the fact that she is still on the main roster as an actual in-ring performer is extremely surprising. She may have a background in martial arts, as well as a tenure with the company, but that does not negate the fact that her in-ring skills are still below mediocre. Her wrestling ability is so weak in fact, that WWE has not even allowed her to compete in a singles match since September of 2014; they literally just made her be Fandango’s dance partner for a good chunk of time. Right now, Rosa is spending time with her newborn daughter, but with new and more talented Divas having been called up from NXT since she has been gone, it is hard to believe that she will have a spot on the active roster waiting for; and with Renee Young and Jojo already established as the backstage interviewers, it is unlikely that Rosa will have a role in with the company by the time 2016 is over. Well, unless they partner her up with Fandango again.
It is hard to believe that Hornswoggle is still employed by the WWE after not having appeared on television for over a year now. Since his debut in 2006, Hornswoggle has only really been a part of two worthwhile story-lines: where he was revealed to be the fictional illegitimate son of Vince McMahon, and where he was revealed to be the anonymous general manager of Raw; story-lines that for quite a sizable amount of fans, were actually ruined by his involvement. He may have become the Cruiserweight champion, and participated in a steel cage match, but he was never hired to be an actual full blown wrestler, he was hired to make people laugh; as evidenced by the fact that creative placed him in a short-lived feud with El Torito where he dressed up in a cow costume. Last March saw Hornswoggle undergo surgery for an injury, and then this past September, he was caught breaking the company’s wellness policy (the only person caught during the testing) and was suspended for thirty days. His suspension has long since ended, but he still has not reappeared on TV. Based on how little they use Hornswoggle, it is incomprehensible that they will continue to keep him for doing little to no work past 2016.
When Fandango debuted around three years ago, not many could have predicted that his dancing gimmick would have caught on the way it did, spawning its own mini dance craze known as Fandangoing. Unfortunately, Fandango’s gimmick reached its peak quite quickly, and has not been able to recapture the amount of success it once had. WWE has even displayed a declining interest in Fandango by not giving him a new dance partner, removing the giant sign which hung over the ring during his entrance, and by giving him less and less screen time. He is a talented enough wrestler, that maybe repackaging him can help Fandango get over with the fans again; but based on the fact that the company pushed him for so long as a caricature, the repackaging process may require far more time and work than the company is willing to put in. The company keeping Fandango as he is now past 2016 is especially hard to believe now that they have called up Tyler Breeze from NXT, a wrestler who is basically Fandango’s carbon copy, right down to the being in love with himself angle and being partnered with Summer Rae.
Out of everyone mentioned on this list, Cameron is the one individual that the WWE desperately needs to get rid of; the very fact that she is still being paid by the company in 2016 is mind-boggling. Ever since she has broken away from Naomi to go solo, it has become overly apparent that she is a terrible wrestler, even more terrible than Eva Marie, but at least Eva receives great heat from the crowds; Cameron on the other hand, garners absolutely no reactions from the crowd that can be considered favorable. It is possible that the reason she has lasted so long is because she was a part of the cast of Total Divas, but as of right now, she is no longer even a part of that show anymore; meaning that possibly the main reason for keeping her around no longer exists. Currently, Cameron is back down at NXT, but with Becky Lynch, Charlotte, and Sasha Banks each being brought up to the main roster this past year, and with current NXT Divas such as Bayley, Asuka, Dana Brooke, and Carmella (who are all far more talented than Cameron) likely being the next group to be called up, it is unthinkable that the WWE will waste a main roster spot on Cameron again; and if there is no hope of her making it back out of developmental, then there is no point in keeping her with the company past 2016.