While the company always tries to maintain the same crop of top Superstars, there is bound to be a turnover in a demanding industry. There are many Superstars who are essential to the WWE product and their job is always safe due to the money they generate. But the same cannot be said about every single Superstar as some are bound to struggle on the main roster. Great talents don't always make it to the top and various reasons come into play to dictate their future. Some may simply be struggling due to bad booking, while others may be ageing and don't have much left in the tank.
And of course, there are those still employed by the WWE even though they are just earning paychecks for contributing very little. We have gotten used to the WWE releasing many Superstars after WrestleMania, which is considered to be the offseason period for them. But the company is always trying to recruit new talent, especially with the introduction of NXT in recent years. We have seen an influx of wrestlers from the independent circuit join the WWE, even some names that fans thought may never make it.
While the company already has plenty of talent, they could always use more which is why they will be making some new signings this year. Just two weeks into the year and they have already added some new names to the roster. With today's list, we will discuss 8 WWE Superstars who will be released in 2018 and 7 independent stars who may get hired.
15 Released: Neville
In October, Neville asked for his release from the company due to growing frustrations with his booking. He had been apart of the Cruiserweight division - a decision which had upset many fans. Neville appears to not have been a major fan either, as he preferred to not have his potential limited. A few months have passed since Neville quit the company, and a solution doesn't appear to be on the horizon as they are ways apart.
Neville seems to have his mind set on leaving the WWE but the feeling isn't mutual as the company has refused to grant him his release. But we suspect that they may eventually have to give in if they can't find an agreement within the next few months, as it doesn't exactly serve them in keeping an unhappy worker. Neville is aiming to follow Cody Rhodes's footsteps by embarking on a run on the independent scene.
14 Hired: Jay Lethal
Jay Lethal is one of the most talented wrestlers from the past 10 years who hasn't wrestled for the WWE. Known for his spectacular impressions of Randy Savage and Ric Flair, Lethal enjoyed many successful years for TNA and ROH. In a recent interview, he indicated that he always dreamed of competing in WWE but he is more than happy to continue working for ROH although he did leave the door open for a future opportunity.
Fans have wanted to see him in the WWE for several years, and their feelings were shared by the legendary Ric Flair who praised Lethal for his talent while adding that the WWE has to sign him. He is currently working for ROH but it's not completely unrealistic to finally see him in a WWE ring this year. Whether he joins NXT or the main roster is an entirely different topic.
13 Released: Rich Swann
A few days ago, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon both indicated that Rich Swann may soon be released from the company. He is currently suspended from the company after being involved in a domestic abuse case with his wife. If Swann ends up being convicted, the WWE won't hesitate to release him. Although they would probably prefer to avoid the bad publicity, he is not exactly one of the top Superstars, so it's safe to say that his future won't be in the WWE.
He had been apart of the Cruiserweight division and was reportedly due for a push, but that all came to an end with the recent charges against him. Reports suggest that he recently reconciled with his wife but that may not matter to the WWE as the controversy surrounding Swann will undoubtedly overshadow anything that may contribute to the product.
12 Hired: Zack Sabre Jr.
Zack Sabre Jr. had the chance to sign with the WWE in 2016 but he refused their contract offer for personal reasons. He had been apart of the Cruiserweight Classic tournament in which he advanced to the final stages prior to his elimination. The reason being is that Sabre was the only finalist to turn down their offer as he didn't want to be tied up to the company just yet, opting to continue wrestling on the independent scene.
He would certainly be a welcomed addition to the roster and while he is unlikely to become a main eventer, there is no reason to believe that he can't succeed as he has the right tools. Sabre is coming off an impressive 2017 run for NJPW and he may be headed to the WWE within the next few months, which many fans are hoping for at the moment.
11 Released: Dolph Ziggler
Long gone are the days of Dolph Ziggler being a main event player as he went from being a multiple time World Champion to lost in the shuffle. In the past few years, his career has been going downhill due to poor booking as well as Ziggler's failure to go over with the crowd. More recently, the company attempted to give him a much needed spark but the WWE Universe still hasn't responded to him like it once did.
Rumors have surrounded Ziggler's future in the past year as he appears to be interested in chasing ventures outside of wrestling, as evident by his Twitter bio and his interviews. While the latest rumors claim that he may be in for a major storyline, this could be his last shot at establishing himself among the top Superstars or else Ziggler will almost certainly be added to the list of releases in April.
10 Hired: Wade Barrett
Fans were far from delighted upon hearing that WWE had released Wade Barrett a few years ago. As it turned out, they had come to an agreement since Barrett didn't want to re-sign with the company due to some ongoing issues behind the scenes. He hasn't exactly burned any bridges as the door remains open for him to return, but Barrett was also frustrated with the direction of his booking.
He wasn't a fan of the storylines and character adjustments that were given to him by the company, especially since he was previously getting over with the fans. Most fans feel like the company dropped the ball with him as he could have been one of the top Superstars. Barrett never ruled out a return to the WWE and even teased fans about it just a few weeks ago through the caption of an Instagram post.
9 Released: Mickie James
When Mickie James returned to the WWE in 2016, she proved that she still had what it takes to compete among the best. But booking hasn't been so kind to her as she has mostly been used to promote younger wrestlers. While she may have been hired as a veteran for that specific role, it usually means that she won't be around for too long. Her popularity has significantly declined as she hasn't exactly recaptured that same magic from her first run with the company.
Although there is a chance that she sticks around past 2018, fans won't be shocked to see her go either. She hasn't been winning many matches as of late and is now losing to the likes of Dana Brooke, which gives you a good idea of where she is today. Despite her in-ring ability, James isn't exactly needed with all the talent around.
8 Hired: Toni Storm
Toni Storm was one of the most impressive competitors from the 2017 Mae Young Classic tournament, and officials quickly took notice of her talents. Not only is she a great wrestler, but her charisma allowed her to instantly connect with the fans. At 22 years old, Storm is fairly young and has plenty of time ahead of her which may be the reason why WWE hasn't signed her just yet.
But she is certainly on their radar according to many reports, including WWE officials, and she will be apart of the roster in due time. Storm may not be in a rush to sign with the company either, especially since she is currently enjoying a successful run on the independent circuit where she quickly rose through the ranks to become one of the top names around. At this rate, WWE may not wait too long before adding her to the women's division.
7 Released: R-Truth
R-Truth has been mostly a comedy act for many years and has very little left to offer. Now that has been replaced as Goldust's partner, his time with the company may be coming to an end soon. He had an impressive run with the WWE, especially during his brief feud with John Cena, but the veteran is now a jobber and not exactly a needed presence. Although he could never reach the top of the mountain, R-Truth has had a respectable career with several accomplishments to his name.
At 45 years old, it shouldn't shock anybody once the company lets him go in a few month especially since he has some injury problems as of late. R-Truth is likely going to transition into a different role with the company, possibly as a road agent or backstage official. He may even be added as an NXT trainer which would certainly make sense for him.
6 Hired: EC3
Unlike many names on this list, EC3 was previously employed by the WWE where he competed in NXT for several years before his eventual release in 2013. But he has really come into his own since departing the company and developed at an impressive rate to become one of the bright spots in Impact Wrestling. With his contract expiring, EC3 and Impact came to an agreement as he left just a few days ago.
Rumors immediately linked him with a WWE return since the company appears to be highly interested in bringing him back. EC3 hasn't provided any updates regarding his future, and while he may work on the independent circuit for some time, most are expecting him to join the WWE in 2018. He would certainly make a great addition to the roster since he has come a long way since we last saw him on WWE television.
5 Released: Tamina
It is surprising that Tamina is still on the roster as of 2018. The general belief among WWE fans is that she was only hired for being the daughter of Jimmy Snuka, although she has failed to make an impact during her time with the company. Despite the fact that the women's revolution is currently at an impressive level, Tamina is one of the few on the roster who failed to find their place in the division.
At 40 years old, Tamina is already advanced for a professional wrestler and will likely be among the Superstars released this year, as she doesn't add any value to the product. She hasn't been able to connect with the fans who are usually silent whenever she appears on TV, so it's safe to say that not many will miss her once she leaves the company.
4 Hired: Kay Lee Ray
You may remember Kay Lee Ray as a contestant in the 2017 Mae Young Classic where she managed to impress with her performances. It's been rumored that the company has a huge interest in signing her, but she chose to remain on the independent scene since she is unable to accommodate the WWE schedule at this time. But the door seems to be open for her and you may see her in NXT as soon as 2018.
Kay Lee Ray is certainly one of the better wrestlers to have competed in the tournament and some fans were disappointed to not see her signed immediately afterward. But the future could certainly be bright for her once she is ready to fully commit to the WWE, especially since the company is looking to add even more female talents to its division. A few days ago, it was revealed that another independent talent Candice LeRae had been signed by the WWE so Kay Lee Ray's turn may come in the upcoming months.
3 Released: Daniel Bryan
It has been reported that Daniel Bryan's contract is set to expire in September of this year, but he may not even make it until then. If he doesn't end up quitting on his own, the company may decide to let him go. He has expressed his desire to wrestle no matter the circumstances, claiming that he had been cleared to compete by several doctors. However, WWE doctors have refused to give him the green light which has created tension between Bryan and the company.
Bryan has hinted that if WWE doesn't allow him to return by WrestleMania 34 then he will have no choice but to move on, so it is likely that he may ask for his release in order to compete on the independent scene. Since being forced to retire from in-ring competition, Bryan has served as the SmackDown General Manager but it's clear that he doesn't see himself in that role.
2 Hired: Marty Scurll
Marty Scurll is currently one of the most impressive talents around who is not signed to the WWE and many believe that it's only a matter of time before the company recruits him. He has wrestled for many companies over the years and is currently working for Ring of Honor as well as NJPW. Scurll has left the door open for a potential WWE opportunity although he did note that is more than happy to continue his run on the independent scene.
There is no doubt that he has made it on the company's radar, and we recently saw him interact with Daniel Bryan on Twitter - potentially to tease a future match in WWE or elsewhere. This past year proved to be a vital one for Scurll who has become more known than ever, and he is hoping to continue establishing himself as one of the top wrestlers today.
1 Released: Hideo Itami
Hideo Itami is one of those talents are is bound to get lost in the shuffle and we suspect that his WWE career will not last too long. He was recently moved to the main roster after having spent some years in NXT. Fans have wanted to see him in WWE for many years as he is considered to be one of the top talents in modern history.
During one of his matches, he was met with a CM Punk chant after performing the Go To Sleep, which the company surely didn't like. It has been rumored that the company doesn't have high hopes for Hideo, therefore he might not be around for too long. He doesn't exactly seem thrilled with his run either as he went from being a star to low-carder. With the upcoming releases after WrestleMania, he may have found himself on the list.