Wrestling has never been considered a stable career and it seems that even when you finally make it to the biggest promotion in the world, it's still not guaranteed that your job is safe. WWE often releases a number of WWE stars, sometimes because of budget cuts and sometimes because of backstage issues that the company doesn't want to have to deal with. Bad media attention is a huge deal for WWE and the company will do anything to ensure that they are not wrapped up in any of it.
Over the past few years, there have been a number of WWE superstars whose releases came from out of nowhere. One minute they were performing on WWE TV and the next the company decides that they're no longer needed and announces their releases. It's hard to always remain on top in WWE and ensure that you're so relevant that the company isn't able to fire you without there being some kind of backlash. As these past few months have revealed, even being a Champion in the company doesn't ensure that your job is safe, which means that every superstar in the company right now must be worried about their future. The following list looks at just 10 of the most recent WWE releases and the reasons why these stars departed from the company. We also have 5 current WWE stars who could be handed their termination papers in the coming months based on current events.
15 Released: Summer Rae
Summer Rae was released from WWE back in 2017 as what seemed like a cost-cutting measure by WWE, considering Summer's last appearance before she was released was more than two years before at WrestleMania 32.
It seems that Summer fell out of favour with many officials in WWE and there was even an incident where Mick Foley threw some shade at Summer Rae on Twitter when he suggested that she wasn't good enough to be part of the Women's Revolution. Rae has been continuing her modelling and acting career outside of WWE after appearing in The Marine, but it seems that the company couldn't find anything else for Summer to do on-screen and decided the best option was to future endeavour the former NXT star. Rae even had a brief stint on Total Divas but she was later removed from the show and it seems that the company had nothing left for her to do.
14 Released: Darren Young
Darren Young is a former Tag Team Champion and was someone who seemed to have a new lease on life after he was aligned with Bob Backlund and the company attempted to push forward the idea of "Let's make Darren Young great again." It seems that Young didn't manage to give Young the boost that he needed and Young was on a downhill spiral from the time when he left Titus O'Neil's side.
After not making many appearances on WWE TV over the past few months, Young was released along with Summer Rae and Emma back in 2017 in what was considered a huge shock at the time, since Young was doing a lot for WWE outside of the company. Young hasn't made any appearances outside of the company but it was recently confirmed that he was going to make his first post-WWE appearance since his release back in October when he's part of Chikara Pro's King of The Trio's tournament later this year.
13 Released: Austin Aries
Austin Aries was another shocking release last year that came completely out of the blue, with the reasoning being that Aries was unhappy with his position in the company and even more annoyed by the fact that he didn't receive any royalties for WrestleMania 33 because he and Neville's match for the Cruiserweight Championship was relegated to the kick off show.
Aries was a popular star before he came to WWE and it seems that he wanted to be part of the company's main roster but WWE only wanted him to wrestle on 205 Live. This didn't sit well with Aries and he decided to depart from the company after finding out that 205 Live was the future that he had. Aries has since returned to the Independent Circuit and Impact Wrestling and seems to be doing quite well without WWE's endorsement, so much so that he hasn't turned back since his release.
12 Next: David Otunga
David Otunga is a former in-ring star who has been relegated to the commentary desk after a few years away from the company. The negative feedback that Otunga received while he was on commentary led to the company replacing him with Booker T and then putting Otunga on the kick off panel instead. Otunga now makes sporadic appearances as part of the kick off shows, but doesn't have anything that could be considered concrete on the main WWE shows.
Otunga has had a number of personal issues recently, which included his girlfriend Jennifer Hudson taking out a protection order against him. It was thought that Otunga's high profile relationship with the former American Idol contestant was the reason why he was kept in WWE. Since that relationship has apparently run its course then it seems that Otunga could be handed his release papers in the near future. He isn't adding much to the show right now.
11 Released: Simon Gotch
Simon Gotch is a former NXT Tag Team Champion but it seems that when the company decided to promote him and his Vaudevillians partner Aiden English to the main roster, they didn't have a lot for the duo to do. Much like The Ascension, the duo fell down the ranks on SmackDown Live and it seems that Gotch got frustrated with his position and took it out on the wrong people.
Gotch wasn't a pleasant person backstage and this led to him having a confrontation with his own partner while backstage at WrestleMania and this was the final straw for WWE who then released the former Champion. Gotch has gone on to use the name Simon Grimm on the Independent Circuit and even though he doesn't seem happy with his WWE release, he has been able to move forward from it over the past few months and prove that he did have talent that the company overlooked.
10 Released: Jack Swagger
Jack Swagger is a former World Champion and someone who came to WWE with experience in amateur wrestling. It seems that this helped Swagger in his earlier career but over the course of his tenure with WWE he found it hard to find his place. Swagger was once part of a team with Cesaro as The Real Americans, but it seems that after the split the Real American had problems remaining relevant.
Swagger was a shock release from the company back in March 2017 after the former Champion stated on Chael Sonnen's podcast that he had asked for his WWE release but two days later the company revealed that he hadn't been released. The following week he was finally granted his release and has since gone on to be part of a number of Independent events. It seems that Swagger is someone who was fed up of sitting on the bench and wanted to be part of the show so he took steps to ensure that he was still able to wrestle while he was in his prime.
9 Next: Paige
Paige has definitely had a rough few years ever since her first suspension from the company back in the summer of 2016. Paige's personal life then became a topic of conversation for many fans all around the world, before the star was able to return and prove herself in the ring once again in November last year.
The former Divas Champion was on the right track to once again prove that the company was right to stand by her, but it was revealed ahead of the first ever Women's Royal Rumble match that Paige couldn't be part of history because she had suffered a neck injury that could have ended her career. Paige has since become something of a manager for Absolution, but it seems that her future could be in doubt in the coming months with the company coming to terms with the fact that she is no longer able to perform in the ring.
8 Released: Emma
Emma was a shock release back in October 2017 when it was revealed that she had gained a number of enemies backstage after she had opted against the Emmalina gimmick. Emma was able to revert back to her Emma gimmick and was part of a decent match with Asuka at TLC and again on Raw. The following night before her release was announced which came as a huge shock to the WWE Universe.
It seems that the former NXT star was the victim of a lot of backstage heat and that ended up being one of the biggest reasons why she was released out of the blue. Emma has since been able to move back into the Independent Circuit and seemingly pick up where she left off when she was signed to the company so it seems that Emma could cash in on the name that WWE made for her in the coming years.
7 Next: Dana Brooke
Dana Brooke is someone who had a lot of potential when she first debuted in NXT a few years ago but it seems that Brooke has fallen down the ranks in WWE in recent years and is now the statistician for a tag team that are glorified jobbers. Brooke has lost her place in the company and has no part in the women's division currently so it is unknown what her future holds.
Brooke's future is currently unclear and since it seems that the rest of the women in the division currently have it covered, there doesn't seem to be much of a future for the former bodybuilder in the coming months. Out of all of the stars in WWE right now, it could be argued that Brooke is one of the most likely to be released if the company need to make budget cuts when the pay-per-view brand split comes to an end in the coming months.
6 Released: Eva Marie
Eva Marie was brought into WWE when she won the 2013 online Diva Search, which gave her a place on Total Divas. Eva definitely had a number of issues fitting in and even when she tried to wrestle the WWE Universe was less than interested. Eva cared more about modelling and acting than she did about being a wrestler and that was why the WWE Universe disliked her.
Eva was suspended from the company in the summer of 2016 for violating the WWE Wellness Policy for the first time, but it seems that Eva failed to return after that and unsurprisingly she was finally released after more than a year away from the company. Eva has since moved on to a career in acting and seemingly isn't all that concerned that her wrestling career has come to an end. Eva's release was one that didn't come as that much of a shock.
5 Released: James Ellsworth
James Ellsworth came into the WWE as a jobber that was called in to face Braun Strowman. Somehow it seems that he was able to make a career out of this and even held two victories over the WWE Champion AJ Styles. It seems that Ellsworth wasn't a star that would have a lengthy tenure in the company, so it wasn't that much of a shock when he was released from the company last year.
Ellsworth was a little bit of light comedy relief that the WWE Universe needed at that time and he worked well with Dean Ambrose and the WWE Champion throughout their feud. It seems that when Ellsworth was put with Carmella and decided to invade the Women's Money in the Bank match. Twice the writing was on the wall for him since it seemed that his career with WWE was coming to an end and there was nothing more for him to do.
4 Next: Zack Ryder
Zack Ryder has been struggling to remain relevant for the past few years. the only thing he currently has going for him is the fact that he has been with the company for so long, but it seems that Ryder has fallen to the bottom of the pile on SmackDown Live ever since he and Mojo Rawley went their separate ways.
Ryder hasn't been used as much as someone of his skill usually is, but he was able to lift the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 32 before he lost it the following night. Ryder's future right now is definitely in doubt since he hasn't been seen on WWE TV for a while and he has nothing in terms of a feud heading into the biggest event of the year. How long can Ryder hold on to his career as a jobber? At some point, the company will have to give up on Ryder when they realize that they have nothing for him moving forward.
3 Released: Rich Swann
Rich Swann is a former Cruiserweight Champion but it seems that his career started to unravel late last year when it was revealed that the 205 Live star had been involved in an altercation with his own wife. The two had only been married for around six months when the domestic violence charges came to light.
Swann was then suspended from the company because WWE has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to disputes of this kind before the charges were then dropped. It seems that Swann and WWE then came to some kind of agreement last month that saw Swann's release on his birthday. It seems that the Cruiserweight Division hasn't been doing very well over the past few months and Swann's future on the Independent Circuit is now uncertain but he may have to sit out a 90-day non-compete clause, which could be why he hasn't been seen over the past few weeks.
2 Released: Enzo Amore
Enzo Amore will always be known as one of the most controversial former superstars in WWE history. Not only was Amore disliked backstage but he was also disliked by a number of the WWE officials and even kicked off the WWE tour bus and out of the WWE locker room.
It seems that Amore caused a number of his issues himself when his obsession with clubs was revealed. Amore was then accused of assault and this became public the day of Raw 25, even though Amore had known for months that this was happening. The company were less than pleased to be put in this position and suspended Amore on the spot and sent him home from the show. They later decided to release him because, on a day when the whole world was looking at WWE and their 25th anniversary celebrations, their attention was on Amore and his personal antics.
1 Next: Neville
Neville hasn't been seen on WWE TV since he dropped his Championship to Enzo Amore back at No Mercy in October and was then ousted out of his rematch for the title. It seems that Neville is unhappy with his position in the company right now and the fact that he was the King of the Cruiserweights and not given the opportunities that Amore was given as Champion.
Over the past few months, WWE has attempted to get into contact with Neville and bring him back to the company but it seems that Neville isn't interested. The latest update was that WWE tried to bring Neville back for the current Cruiserweight tournament but once again this fell flat, which is leaving his WWE future completely in doubt. It was reported that Neville's contract is currently frozen until he returns so he can't sit it out and decide not to come back.