With World Wrestling Entertainment being as big a company as it is in one of the most popular entertainment industries in the world, it should come as no surprise that one of the hottest and most common topics of conversations among wrestling fans is that of the comings and goings of employees within the company. Instead of being a wrestling show, Vince McMahon sees WWE first and foremost as a television program, a form of entertainment like any other on television. Therefore, he’s always looking for the most marketable performers in the world and must bring them on board before her can weed out the “winners” and the “losers.”
Especially since the rise in popularity of NXT as the development territory for WWE, wrestling fans have become increasingly aware over the years of the young stars who are being hired, trained and groomed for a potential future under the bright lights of Raw and SmackDown. As those stars succeed or come up short of expectations, it creates the illusion of even more stars being released from WWE contracts than before. That’s because many of these stars are now becoming known in NXT before they’ve really had a chance to be constructed into the next WWE Superstar.
In particular, 2014 was a big year for WWE releases and was actually one of the first years we began to see quite a few lesser known names making headlines for parting ways with the company. By the same token, though, there were also plenty of men and women who had fallen behind in terms of their usefulness to WWE and were subsequently let go. Let’s catch up with fifteen WWE Superstars who received pink slips in 2014.
15 Yoshi Tatsu
Naofumi Yamamoto built up a reputation for himself in Japan with the popular New Japan Pro Wrestling promotion before being signed to a developmental contract for WWE and reporting to their Florida Championship Wrestling territory. A couple of years later Yamamoto, now performing under the ring name Yoshi Tatsu, was called up to the main roster and began performing for the WWE’s revived version of ECW. Tatsu eventually began wrestling on both Raw and SmackDown but would never see a lot of success for the company, becoming what is referred to as a “jobber,” or someone who loses most of their matches in order to make their opponents look better.
Yoshi Tatsu’s sparing use in WWE would come to an end in 2014 when he was finally released from his contract. Since leaving the company, he has returned to wrestling on the independent circuit and continued his work in New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Tevita Fifita, better known to pro wrestling fans as Camacho, is the son of the wrestling legend known as Haku, or Meng. Camacho’s family is widely considered a part of the great Anoa’i wrestling dynasty, the Samoan family which includes the likes of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Roman Reigns and the Usos, despite lacking any blood relation, so expectations were high when Camacho was brought into WWE and teamed with Hunico to form a tag team.
Camacho slowly appeared less and less on WWE television until he was rarely seen before being released from his contract in 2014. After leaving the company, he enjoyed a brief run in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling under the ring name Micah, where he teamed with Drew Galloway and Eli Drake as a stable known as The Rising. In 2016 he began performing for both New Japan Pro Wrestling and the very popular Mexican promotion Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre, or CMLL.
13 Raquel Diaz
As the daughter of Vickie Guerrero and the late WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero, Raquel Diaz had some pretty big shoes to fill when she was signed to a developmental contract by WWE in 2010 and reported to Florida Championship Wrestling for training. Diaz, whose real name is Shaul Guerrero, competed for two years in FCW and won such accolades as the FCW Divas Championship and the title of Queen of FCW. When WWE transitioned its development territory to NXT, Diaz began competing there, where she would stay save for a year off until her release in 2014.
It’s really a shame she didn’t get around to making it to WWE’s main roster as the WWE Universe would no doubt love to have seen what the daughter of Eddie Guerrero had to offer. It would seem as if she has retired from the wrestling industry, but the year of her release she became engaged to WWE Superstar Aiden English and the two were married in 2016.
Wrestling fans may remember JTG as a long time member of the WWE roster, debuting alongside his tag team partner Shad Gaspard in 2006 as the tag team known as CrymeTyme. CrymeTyme became very popular with wrestling fans and was known for stealing just about anything they could get their hands on. Surprisingly, the two never won the WWE World Tag Team Championship despite working together for several years and going over well with the audience.
Once CrymeTyme was split up upon Shad Gaspard’s release from the company in 2010, JTG embarked upon a solo career. That singles run went pretty much nowhere and JTG floated around the roster for several years, becoming something of a running joke for managing to avoid getting a pink slip until he actually was released from his contract in 2014. Since then, he has been wrestling on the independent circuit, written two books, and gotten into acting.
11 Sin Cara
Sure, Sin Cara is still wrestling for WWE, largely with the Cruiserweight division, but the man who portrays the masked Superstar these days was a guy formerly known to the WWE Universe as Hunico. The original face behind Sin Cara belonged to long time Mexican wrestler Luis Urive, known better as Mistico for his work in the CMLL promotion. Sin Cara was supposed to be a big deal upon his arrival in WWE and the company tried hard to make the character work (something they are still determined to make happen today), but it seemed as if nothing was working out.
Sin Cara teamed with Rey Mysterio a few times and there were murmurs around the internet about a plan for a WrestleMania match between the two, but that never materialized. In 2014, Urive was released from his WWE contract and he went on to wrestle for AAA and other promotions, although he was not allowed to use the Sin Cara character.
10 CM Punk
There’s not much left to say about CM Punk that hasn’t been said a million times since his controversial departure from the biggest wrestling company in the world. Punk was easily one of the most popular WWE Superstars in many years, finding success as the longest WWE World Champion in decades despite the company’s initial hesitance to try and make him into a main event player. Punk was nothing if not controversial and outspoken, as even when he was employed by WWE he regularly criticized them for his misuse.
That’s to say nothing of the venom he spewed at the company following his 2014 departure due to creative frustrations and what he made out to be negligence on the part of the company with the health of its athletes. Punk has said he’s done with pro wrestling and has since embarked upon a career in mixed martial arts.
9 Mason Ryan
Barri Griffiths, better known as former WWE Superstar Mason Ryan, is a monster of a man. That has historically been exactly what WWE looks for in a successful competitor, so it was assumed Ryan would at least see some level of success in the ring. To an extent he did, as he had the opportunity to work with the likes of CM Punk, Wade Barrett and others as a member of the group called The Nexus. Unfortunately his run on the main roster would only last a short time before he wound up back in NXT, WWE’s development program.
Mason Ryan spent two years in NXT being sparingly used before his official release from the company came in 2014. Following this, he made an appearance with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling and wrestled on the independent scene. In a recent interview on WWE’s official website, Ryan informed the WWE Universe that he now performs with Cirque du Soleil in their stage show KÀ.
8 Ezekiel Jackson
At one time, Ezekiel Jackson had a bright future ahead of him in WWE. Having originally gotten his start as the bodyguard for current WWE Cruiserweight star Brian Kendrick, Jackson managed to build for himself a pretty impressive career inside the ring, even moving on to win the ECW and Intercontinental Championships a few years later. He was, at different times, associated with Vladimir Kozlov and William Regal as well as the group known as The Corre.
In 2014, after a couple of years of facing many losses in the ring and being used sparingly on television, he was finally released from his WWE contract. Since leaving the company, he has continued his pro wrestling career, competing for TNA Wrestling as Rycklon as well as for Lucha Underground under the ring name Big Ryck. He still competes on the independent circuit for a promotion known as Westside Xtreme Wrestling, or wXw.
7 Alberto Del Rio
As one of the top heels of the past decade on SmackDown, Alberto Del Rio built a legacy worthy of a future WWE Hall of Fame induction as a multiple time WWE World Champion alongside his personal ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez. As a villain, Del Rio was in his comfort zone and that is where he shone brightest, but once WWE decided to mix things up and try him out as a babyface, things quickly started to go south for his career. The WWE Universe just wasn’t buying the usually cocky Del Rio as a protagonist and as a result his connection with the audience died a slow death.
In 2014, Alberto was fired from WWE after he slapped a fellow employee backstage for making a racist remark about him, which led to a ton of controversy, especially because the other individual seemingly faced no repercussions. Del Rio moved on to independent organizations and competed for Lucha Underground as Alberto El Patron, quickly proving he didn’t need WWE to get by. He rejoined the company a year later, only to leave again in 2016. He now plans to retire from wrestling soon and recently became engaged to fellow WWE Superstar Paige.
6 The Great Khali
The gargantuan WWE Superstar known as The Great Khali was once a force to be reckoned with, at least in his early months in the company. He was quickly established as someone the company had gotten behind as he was thrown into situations with the likes of the Undertaker and made to look like an unstoppable force, even winning the World Heavyweight Championship. Khali proved to be pretty controversial, as most WWE fans didn’t take to him for his obvious lack of athletic ability.
In the final years of his WWE career, Khali was used as a comedy act, often dancing and wrestling alongside the likes of Santino Marella. After slowly reaching the point where he was no longer being utilized on television he was eventually let go in 2014. Since parting ways with the company, The Great Khali is opened his own wrestling school called Continental Wrestling Entertainment, which is located in Punjab, India.
5 Brodus Clay
Having first been associated with Alberto Del Rio when he started with WWE, Brodus Clay quickly became a solo star known as the “Funkasaurus” and started dancing his way to the ring accompanied by his backup dancers, Cameron and Naomi. Brodus and the “Funkadactyls” as they were called may have been fun for the children in the audience, but the lighthearted funk shtick didn’t do much for the general population among the WWE Universe and after an uncomfortably long period of time, the gimmick was mercifully put to rest. Unfortunately for Brodus Clay, so was his WWE career.
Brodus was let go from his position working for WWE in 2014, but he wasn’t inactive for very long. Very soon after leaving WWE, he showed up in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling as Tyrus, where he continues to wrestle today and has been associated with popular Impact stars such as Matt Hardy and Ethan Carter III.
4 Evan Bourne
Evan Bourne was already a huge star on the independent wrestling scene under the ring name Matt Sydal before he was signed by WWE and made his debut on the main roster in 2008. Bourne found himself across the ring from popular WWE Superstars like Edge, Cody Rhodes and Chris Jericho and he captivated the WWE Universe when he teamed with Kofi Kingston in the team known as Air Boom. Air Boom enjoyed a run as the WWE World Tag Team Champions, but this proved as high as Evan Bourne would fly in WWE.
After racking up two wellness policy violations and suffering an injury which put him out of action for an extended period of time, Evan Bourne lost all of his momentum. In 2014, he decided he was never going to be used in the capacity he felt he deserved and decided he wanted to leave the company. He was released from his contract and returned to the independent circuit with organizations like Ring of Honor and PWG.
3 Ricardo Rodriguez
Ricardo Rodriguez is best known to fans of the WWE product as the personal ring announcer for former WWE Superstar Alberto Del Rio. Ricardo’s voice became a staple in the company for many years as Del Rio became one of the top heels in the company over multiple WWE World Championship reigns. Ricardo occasionally found himself inside the ring as an actual wrestler and he was able to hold his own because years before his time in WWE he competed as a performer on the independent wrestling scene.
Ricardo Rodriguez and Alberto Del Rio were split up after a few years together and Ricardo began being used much less on television. After he was released from his contract in 2014, he wasted no time getting back to work outside WWE by rejoining the indie circuit, working with organizations like AAA, World Wrestling Council and The Great Khali’s promotion in India, Continental Wrestling Entertainment.
2 Drew McIntyre
When he first started competing for WWE in the late 2000s, Drew McIntyre seemed like a really big deal. His time wrestling for the SmackDown brand near the end of the first brand extension was memorable for his run as the Intercontinental Champion and he received an on screen stamp of approval from the boss, Vince McMahon, who referred to McIntyre as a future World Champion. Unfortunately for Drew, that was not to be the case, as once the company seemingly gave up on getting him over he was relegated to the embarrassing role of playing air guitar alongside Jinder Mahal and Heath Slater in 3MB.
The 3MB angle sadly went on for far too long and in 2014 both McIntyre and Mahal received their much belated releases from the company. Drew wasted no time moving on to future endeavors, hitting the ring for indie companies like Evolve and winding up performing for TNA Wrestling, where he still wrestles under his real name, Drew Galloway.
Kaitlyn was a rarity upon her arrival in WWE’s Divas division in the sense that she not only looked good, but she also had the muscle and athleticism to actually play the role of a pro wrestler, something most women competing in the ring for WWE at the time were lacking. After winning the all female season of the NXT competition, before it was developed into its own brand, Kaitlyn joined Raw and SmackDown and teamed with AJ Lee, a Diva whom Kaitlyn would feud with over the coming years for the Divas Championship.
But Kaitlyn’s influence in the division would only last a few years, as once her program with AJ Lee came to a close she was sent to the back of the line and rarely ever seen on television. In 2014, she decided to move on from the world of professional wrestling and was granted her release from WWE. Today she owns a smoothie bar in Florida with her husband and owns her own fitness clothing line called Celestial Bodiez.
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