It’s an interesting time in the WWE at the moment. We love the fact that the company is adding lots of talent, however what many tend to forget is the fact that it also means some are likely to leave the company. In this article, we take a look at some of the performer contracts we believe will not be renewed by the company. A select few might decide to leave on their own while others might retire due to old age. The bulk of the article will look at wrestlers that’ll try to keep the dream alive, and we’ll predict where they’ll end up. We see some becoming huge names with the likes of Impact, ROH and New Japan, while we also see the opposite end of the spectrum with talents becoming afterthoughts on the indie scene. Yes, pro wrestling can be beautiful and also quite dark, and you’ll get a glimpse of both with these predictions.
Enjoy the article folks and like always, be sure to share it with a friend. Without further ado, here are 15 WWE contracts Vince McMahon will NOT renew and a look at where they might end up. We begin with a WWE Superstar who’s at the prime of his career but sadly, is being frozen out his contract by the company. Let’s begin!
15 Neville – New Japan/ROH
It’s sad to see a wrestler in his prime currently being frozen out of his WWE contract at home. Since walking out of the company, we haven’t seen or heard from Neville – talks seemed optimistic at one point with a rumor swirling around pertaining to Neville returning to the ring and joining SmackDown, however that doesn’t appear to be the case. With Triple H taking over 205 Live, some hope he can somehow convince Neville to return with a new direction for the brand. It still seems extremely unlikely however.
The biggest possibility at this point is Neville’s contract expiring and the Superstar leaving the WWE.
His possibilities are going to be endless as a free agent. We expect him to join top tier promotions such as ROH and New Japan, along with independent work back in the UK, given their booming wrestling scene.
14 Mickie James – Retired
It’s hard to believe that Mickie’s inching closer and closer to her 40s. At the age of 38, James is set to turn 39 in the summer of 2018. Despite her age, she really hasn’t missed a beat, especially in terms of her looks; the Richmond, Virginia native looks better than ever nowadays on WWE programming.
With an emphasis on younger talent, we don’t expect the WWE to re-sign Mickie,
especially with all the potential call-ups down in NXT. If her contract isn’t renewed, we expect James to call it a career. Before the WWE called, she was already contemplating ending her indie career and we don’t expect her to revisit that option again. Instead, she’ll enjoy motherhood and perhaps, rekindle her music career (which she was experimenting with before her WWE return).
13 Luke Harper – New Japan/ROH
Ask the current WWE locker room who is the most under-utilized talent and we have no doubt that most would say Luke Harper. He was finally on a roll heading into WrestleMania last year, however he became an afterthought once again shortly after. He’s now being slotted as a tag team act alongside long-time partner Erik Rowan. The team’s gaining momentum but most fans can agree, he could be doing so much more.
This failed negotiation can see Harper turn down a deal and bet on his talents over on the indie scene.
Wrestling Observer has stated that if Harper chooses to walk on his WWE deal, he’ll have major offers from the top tier promotions that aren’t the WWE; meaning, the likes of New Japan and his old stomping ground in ROH, will come calling ASAP. If he does leave, look for a duo deal similar to Cody joining both ROH and New Japan.
12 Shelton Benjamin – Retired
Speaking of underrated talents, does it get more underrated that Shelton Benjamin? What a career that veteran has endured with the WWE. From IC Title moments to brilliant displays during ladder matches - Benjamin was must-see television throughout his career. Wisely, the WWE decided to bring him back in 2017 and he’s now part of the SmackDown brand, teaming up with Chad Gable.
It’s only a matter of time before we see Benjamin and Gable turn on one another, with Gable expected to go over.
In terms of long-term goals with Benjamin, we really don’t see anything of the sort especially given his age (42 years old). We’re not sure whether or not the WWE will choose to renew his deal; if they don’t, it's more than likely the South Carolina native will call it a day in the wrestling business and hang up the boots for good.
11 Dana Brooke – Back To Fitness
Coming from a bodybuilding background, the WWE used that old school mentality to recruit Dana Brooke. She was progressing quite nicely with NXT, however she was given a premature call-up to the main roster and one she certainly was not ready for. Ever since, she’s become an afterthought on the main roster especially with all the talent emerging. Brooke is now serving as a manager for Titus Worldwide - mostly wrestling on pre-shows and live events nowadays. As we said with Mickie earlier, the WWE has a plethora of talent down in NXT and lots of new faces they’re looking to hire on the indie scene.
With all that in mind, the new talent might edge Brooke out of her WWE job, with the company opting to not renew her deal.
In all likelihood, she’ll give the indies a shot and leave the wrestling business for good going back to her fitness roots.
10 Tamina – Retired
It’s hard to believe but it’s almost been a decade since Tamina signed a WWE deal for the first time. Since then, she hasn’t won a single Women’s Championship and has become an afterthought in the recent years. Her in-ring career recently took a bit of a hit as she required surgery for a shoulder issue. She’s set to be gone for quite some time, thankfully nowadays, the WWE doesn’t release talent while injured.
Predicting Tamina’s future, once she heals up, the WWE will find it difficult to slot her back in with the all the upcoming talent filling up the rosters.
Similar to Summer Rae, she might be forced to watch from the sidelines even though she’s healed up from an injury. We expect Tamina to see her contract run out and quietly retire from the business enjoying motherhood as a mom of two children.
9 Wesley Blake – Low Level Indies
Joining the NXT ranks back in 2013, Blake enjoyed some instant success as a member of a tag team alongside former partner Buddy Murphy. The two enjoyed a great run alongside manager Alexa Bliss, however, once Bliss was removed from the duo they lost steam and later, were split up.
Blake has become an afterthought ever since with lower card matches at live event loops, rarely appearing on television. For the most part, he’s working tag matches alongside his new partner Steve Cutler.
He’s the only member of the former trio still down in NXT as partner Buddy Murphy recently got the call-up to 205 Live. With a lack of momentum by his side and with his spouse Sara Lee recently released by the company, Blake might be joining his wife sooner rather than later.
8 Lana – Non-Wrestling Gigs
Similar to Eva Marie, many have questioned Lana’s motives in getting into the business. Many make the claim that she’s in it for the spotlight and a ticket to fame. For that reason, her longevity in the business has been a massive question mark time and time again.
Making matters worse, her in-ring career has been a total disaster, so much so that she was placed back as a manager for the time being, although she is worked mixed matches alongside her husband Rusev lately.
We expect Lana to perhaps branch out towards other things eventually such as acting or perhaps even modelling.
Look for a departure and result similar to Eva Marie - had it not been for Rusev, she might have been out the door by now.
7 Hideo Itami – Back To Japan
Itami leaving the WWE seems long overdue. The wrestler has had a miserable time down in NXT undergoing various surgeries. His health has been a major issue and that hasn’t helped his booking in the slightest. Many thought a release was coming but instead, he was called up to the main roster joining 205 Live. His work with the brand hasn’t been the greatest; he broke Kendrick’s nose in one of his first matches and recently sent out a cryptic type tweet, stating,
“It’s over”. Is it a work? Yes most likely, however, we do anticipate “it being over.”
If the sides part ways, we fully expect Itami to return back to Japan, whether that would entail joining New Japan or another Japanese promotion. We can also see Itami returning to Ring Of Honor for one more run.
6 Tye Dillinger – Impact
Poor Tye Dillinger worked his butt off to get back to the WWE. Even when he resigned, the veteran struggled to find a gimmick, that’s until his Ten gimmick caught some serious heat with the masses down in NXT. He transferred that success onto the main roster, however it appears as though the WWE wants to take a different direction. With a plan to turn Dillinger heel, he’s now being kept off television so the Ten chants can be forgotten about and subside... Yeah, you have to feel for the guy.
We wish him the very best and hope it works for the better, however we have reason to believe the plan might backfire resulting in another release for Dillinger. With Impact moving to Canada, we would predict Dillinger joining the company and becoming a huge star, one big enough to carry the Impact Championship.
5 Paige – Out Of Wrestling
On the surface, it sounds pretty harsh that at the age of 25, Paige’s career might be over due to a neck injury. However, Paige is no ordinary 25 year old, starting in the business at the age of 13 (if you can believe it). With all those miles on her body, she might be done for good as an active performer.
Some suggest Paige joins the PC as a trainer for the females.
However, we anticipate a different route from Paige as she leaves the industry behind joining other avenues. We can also see her starting her own clothing line even further along with random gigs in the entertainment business. Paige stepping back into the ring outside of the WWE similar to Daniel Bryan, is also credible, however given the sensitivity of a neck injury, we hope that isn’t the case.
4 Jinder Mahal – Impact
You can’t help but to feel sorry for Jinder Mahal who experienced the highest of highs in 2017, only to see it all come crashing down. In what is absolutely not his fault, the WWE tanked with shows overseas in India; Vince was furious with the expansion plan and decided to have Mahal drop the championship ending his run with the title. What’s next for Jinder is a big question and
it won’t shock us all that much if the WWE elects to not renew his contract.
If that would be the case, Mahal would get lots of interest out on the indie scene as a former WWE Champion. We can see him joining the likes of Impact Wrestling as a major heel for the promotion; we can also see him take on work with other indies as well.
3 Daniel Bryan – Indie Work Worldwide
As we roll along with 2018, the most intriguing question is going to become: will the WWE clear Daniel Bryan to wrestle? If not, it’s almost guaranteed that he’ll choose to walk out on his contract and return to the ring elsewhere. What a decision that’s going to be by the WWE and their doctors.
If Bryan does walk, which seems to be the likely decision, we anticipate indie work around the world from the former WWE Champion.
Bryan has teased working a program with Cody in ROH, he’s also expressed interest in working a hair versus mask match over in Mexico. Hey, maybe that’s why he’s growing his hair out? New Japan is also another option with a number of mouth-watering matches. As you see, Daniel is likely to be all over the indie scene if he doesn’t get the clearance by WWE doctors.
2 Brock Lesnar – UFC
At the age of 40, Brock’s window is slowly closing. For that reason, he fully intends on joining the UFC for at least one more match. With his contract set to expire in the summer of 2018, we expect Lesnar to make the jump back to MMA with the expiration of his suspension. Some argue that Lesnar used the same tactic with the WWE last time around for contract negotiations, however
we find it hard to believe that the company would opt to give him even more money given his drop off in terms of being such an attraction.
With Lesnar not likely to accept anything less than he was making, a release seems likely for both sides. Brock is likely to work a final program with Bobby Lashley before his departure. We won’t be too shocked if he returns for another run however after his UFC return.
1 Rich Swann – Evolve/Pro Wrestling Guerrilla
26 years old and oozing with charisma, the WWE loved the potential of Rich Swann, so much so that they crowned him as the Cruiserweight Champion at one point. His push quietly fizzled out, however he was still a major part of the 205 Live brand. Sadly, that isn’t the case any longer as the WWE decided to suspend him indefinitely following an arrest for a disturbance (alongside his spouse). The charges have since been dropped, however he hasn’t returned to programming just yet.
With Vince starting up the XFL and claiming to have a no-tolerance policy against arrests, Swann might be used as an example. If the WWE doesn’t renegotiate a deal with the Superstar, we expect him to return back to his old stomping grounds with the likes of Evolve, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and various other indie promotions.
We're sad to report that just days ago, this prediction turned into a reality as Swann parted ways with the WWE. We wish him the best on his continued journey, already set to appear on indie shows.