The recent brand split gave the WWE fans several topics to chew on. One of the major talking points pertains to what the future holds for several WWE Superstars. Some will continue to thrive for a long time, while others hope to relaunch their careers with this new twist. With a smaller roster comes added television time, and some struggling stars hope that this factor will once again rise their credibility.
Then there is the dark third category of discussion, which are Superstars that will fail. This article will examine this question by speculating which wrestlers will not only suffer, but ultimately part ways with the company. Some names are less established, others we are just tired of and lastly, the other category looks at Superstars that just seem to be lost in the mix despite their obvious talents which are still apparent. Can any of these 15 ultimately survive? We'll discuss which stars have the best potential. Now, let’s dive in and begin. Here is a list of 15 rumored names that will likely part ways with the WWE in the near future. Enjoy!
15 Dolph Ziggler
We start the article off with the most significant name on the list in terms of talent and draw value, that man is of course the “show off” Dolph Ziggler. We tend to forget because he’s been with the company for over a decade now, but before coming to the WWE Ziggler was a highly coveted free agent with a terrific background as an amateur wrestler competing for Kent State University. His WWE start was rocky to say the least, being involved in a lackluster storyline with a bunch of male cheerleaders. At that point, he was a background player at best. Thankfully, the company saved Ziggler after that less than stellar run and repacked him into the star that he truly had the potential to be.
His talent was evident, he was later rewarded with World Heavyweight Championship after he cashed in his Money In The Bank contract. The reception he got that night was a clear indication of how over he really was. Unfortunately, things would later spiral leading to this point. Dolph is a glorified talent enhancer putting over everyone that has some sort of potential. His future remains in serious doubt and he may be better off looking for work elsewhere. His pick to SmackDown may help rejuvenate his career, not to mention Kevin Nash expressing interest in being his bodyguard. We really hope things work out for the Ohio native, though his future remains in doubt.
14 Jack Swagger
In terms of talent, Swagger ranks just behind Ziggler on this list. The two share very similar stories, with Swagger also having a tremendous amateur background record. Jack was labelled for big things, as many compared him to the likes of Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar, early on.
The hype was quickly matched, and the company did a great job of pushing Swagger till he reached the pinnacle of his career by winning his first and only World Heavyweight Championship after he cashed in his Money In The Bank contract. Scary how similar his situation is to Dolph’s; after winning the title, things got rocky. A suspension for marijuana consumption would move his name down the card, to the point that he would never recover (till this day). After being drafted to Raw, it’s hard to see any type of sustainable future for the talented veteran. His days may be numbered at this point.
13 Jerry Lawler
Pretty wild to think that Lawler signed his first WWE deal as an announcer way back in December of 1992. Decades later, Jerry is still a member of the WWE family, although some recent situations have hurt his role in the company. Just recently, the avid Coke collector found himself in some hot water with the company. On June 17th, it was reported that The King had been suspended by the company for a domestic arrest after Lawler had a dispute with his partner. With a new focus on absolute professionalism, the company immediately suspended Jerry (as we mentioned). Many thought this was the end of his long WWE run.
Surprisingly, it was not. The suspension was reduced once the WWE found out that the charges had been dropped. Although, things did end up changing for Lawler pertaining to his role. With a youth movement in place, The King will now be joining the WWE panel, alongside Booker T. It seems like his days as a commentator are done with Corey Graves joining Raw and JBL being moved to SmackDown alongside David Otunga. With this change taking shape, Lawler’s days with the company are potentially coming to an end.
12 Simon Gotch
At the moment, Simon Gotch, one half of The Vaudevillains, seems to be in the WWE’s dog house. At the recent WWE Draft (which was live on SmackDown), one apparent altercation took place at the catering section between Gotch and Sin Cara backstage. According to sources, it was a beatdown (more than an actual fight) with Gotch getting the worse of the exchange.
We discussed this in the previous entry in regards to The King; professionalism is at an all-time high, and so with that being said you can expect some consequences to follow. Things aren’t looking good for Gotch in particular, especially when you consider the fact that he’s only been on the main roster for a couple of months. Also, factor in that his team has failed to accomplish anything of significance during the allotted time. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out, but as of now, things don’t look good for his future.
11 Sin Cara
Rumors indicate that Sin Cara snapped because of something that was said to him by Gotch. Although he didn’t initiate the fight, the company still has a no-nonsense policy when it comes to these altercations. The Alberto Del Rio situation from the past is a perfect example, the former WWE Champion was released by the company after an incident with a WWE employee. It was later found out, that similar to Sin Cara, it was a beat down by Del Rio more than anything. Alberto saw black when an employee insulted him on a personal level (Alberto still hasn’t fully disclosed what was said, but it was quite personal according to the WWE veteran). Despite the reasoning, the company still released Del Rio. Sin Cara hopes he will not suffer a similar fate. With this in mind and nothing really percolating for Sin Cara creatively, he too may see his WWE future fall apart.
10 Curtis Axel
Bret Hart’s recent comments did give us some food for thought; The Hitman voiced his displeasures on how badly Axel is currently being booked with the company. Bret has a point, as Curtis has become a lower-card player meant to provide the show with some comedic relief more than anything. It's quite sad when you think about his roots, as his father was one of the greatest WWE performers of all time, the late great Mr. Perfect, Curt Hennig.
His career got off to a promising start. His biggest achievement, like his father, was claiming the WWE Intercontinental Championship. He would then regress, relying on multiple comedic gimmicks, one in a Tag Team with Ryback, and second as a knockoff of Hulk Hogan which actually generated some interest.
He got drafted to Raw, so it’s difficult to see Axel succeed on a brand filled with stars from top to bottom. At this point, he might be better off looking for work elsewhere and recreating himself on the indie scene.
9 Summer Rae
The WWE draft was anything but what we expected; once again, SmackDown looks to be regarded as the B show judging by the talent of the roster. The Women’s Division on SmackDown in particular looks to be the land of opportunity, filled with unestablished faces from the women’s division. As opposed to the likes of Paige, Sasha and Charlotte, SmackDown has the lesser known names, which includes newcomers Carmella and Alexa Bliss, followed by veterans Natalya, Naomi and Eva Marie (I know calling her a veteran is a stretch). Becky Lynch seems to be the leading force at the moment.
With all this in mind, you’d think Summer would be put on SmackDown to blossom as a heel in a lesser known division. Though this was not the case, she is now swimming with the sharks on Raw alongside the Champion Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Dana Brooke, Nia Jax, Alicia Fox and Paige. This may seal her faith over time, diminishing her value even further.
The next three entries on this list will feature veterans that are somehow still with the company after years of work. Goldust is the most talented of the three. Despite his age of 47, Dustin can still go with the best of them. He is also a mainstay during WWE Live Events.
At this point in his career, a pick to Raw won’t do the former IC Champion any good. Stacked with some great Tag Teams, you’d best believe that Goldust will be used alongside R-Truth for comedic relief, pre-show matches and to put younger stars over when competing on the main show. His brother leaving the company also didn’t help too much, but obviously the WWE has looked past that with Runnels being a part of the WWE for a decade. We hope to see him thrive in the future, partaking in another role with the company. But as for his in-ring future, it looks quite cloudy at the moment.
7 Mark Henry
It seemed like a formality at the time; his career was coming to an end, so the WWE gave him his first and only World Heavyweight Title run as a thank you, and all the stars looked like they were aligning for a proper send off to a great career. And that is what happened, though with an odd twist that would see Henry come out of retirement and back into the ring puzzling many fans around the globe.
Since his comeback, Henry has done nothing of significance, which leads us to believe he was only brought back because of his relationships with several WWE employees (which includes the boss himself Vince McMahon, who grew very close to Mark over the years). This sounds nice, but at the end of the day the on-screen product is what counts. We’ve seen everything Henry has to offer and at the age of 45, it doesn’t seem like anything new will come out of the billed 399 pound veteran. A release seems like a formality in the near future.
6 Big Show
Similar to Henry, Big Show stays relevant because of the backstage relationships he has formed. Though, Big Show seems to still stick around much more than Henry in the on-screen product, which has infuriated fans. We’ve seen it time and time again, the WWE at times seems to live in their own bubble; despite all the “please retire” chants in the last year, the company still persists with shoving Big Show down our throats.
The draft was yet another example of them doing so, announcing his selection live on SmackDown. The pick only made things worse for Show, as the crowd booed in utter disgust at the wasted selection. The WWE tried to tell its Universe that he’s still valuable but the fans were having none of it. At some point, the WWE will take the hint and stop feeding us Big Show. His work rate and accomplishments deserve praise, but with a new era, it’s time for both parties to move on.
Oh yes, even developmental young stars are not immune from this list, as you will see with this entry and the next. With the brand split came numerous NXT callups. With an already small sized roster, Finn Balor, American Alpha, Mojo Rawley, Carmella, Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax, were all taken from the roster. So you’d think that this means NXT would likely want to hang onto the talents they have, even if they are struggling like Blake. The opposite, actually. The WWE plans to stack the developmental brand with new talent from the indie circuit and the CWC tournament, which means that spots once again will be limited to those who are deserving of an opportunity.
At the moment, Blake seems to be an odd man out. Following the demise of his Tag Team, Blake has done nothing of significance rarely appearing on the program, unlike his Australian counterpart Murphy, who has been featured in a variety of matches against some high profile names like Nakamura. With his value being so low at the moment, his days are probably numbered at this point.
4 Elias Samson
Rarely has NXT missed the mark with new talent. After several vignettes aired of the drifter Elias Samson, it seemed like the developmental brand once again hit a homerun. Though, that quickly changed once Samson got in the ring. Appearance-wise the guy looks great, which added to the excitement of his gimmick. It seemed like a Raven meets Jeff Jarrett type of demeanor, though in the ring, Samson failed to deliver not making any type of connection with the NXT crowds. His lack of charisma doesn’t help his cause. He just seems to be stale all around with a lack of facial expression. Yes, I get he’s a mysterious drifter but it just comes across as uncomfortable, mixed with his slow ring style, which is no longer suited for today’s climate.
He’s currently on the shelf with an injury, but whether he will be saved remains a big question. For Samson, improvements need to start in the ring. At this point, his future seems to be 50/50.
3 Eva Marie
The curious case of Eva Marie has once again intensified with her selection to the SmackDown brand, despite her improvements being minimal (at best). It doesn’t take a scientist to realize that the WWE is high on her. She’s been flopping around the main and developmental roster for years now.
Her recent call up will either make or break her WWE career. All signs point to break though, especially when you consider that SmackDown will air live and no edits to the show will be made. During her NXT involvement, her matches were obviously edited with cuts left and right during her encounters. She’s now joining the big time, and thinking about some her former botches on live television, the future may once again be rocky while exposing her legitimate weaknesses.
Her looks will only get the female talent so far. A brand extension mixed with live TV may seal her faith with the company, unless something remarkable transpires. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how it all develops.
Similar to Eva Marie, it seems like the WWE was high on Lana for her unique image. Though, what Eva could not do, which Lana has, is create a connection with the WWE Universe despite barely getting any in-ring time and predominantly being used as a manger.
Some believe that Lana has done more harm than good. Not only did she spoil a storyline by announcing her kayfabe engagement to Rusev when the two were no longer together on-screen (which is an absolute no, no in the world of pro wrestling), but she also seems to take the heat off of Rusev with fans caring more for her than the dominant Bulgarian Brute.
The WWE is very high on Rusev and with reason. The guy has great size mixed with tremendous athleticism. For him to take the next step the company may finally need to pull the plug on Lana. It may not happen as of this writing, but we truly believe that in a couple of years down the line, Lana will explore other avenues, while Rusev will take his gimmick to greater heights.
1 Braun Strowman
It’s no secret, the WWE is quite intrigued by Strowman, and when I say 'the WWE', really, I mean Vince McMahon. Since the origins of the WWE, the company has had an agenda to constantly push big men, even at the expense of the audience's entertainment.
Strowman is the most recent example of this. At the draft you could hear it in the voice of the panel trying to make a big deal out of the selection, although most fans were still not buying it. With Bray no longer by his side, Braun can very well fall to irrelevancy rather quickly with no draw value to his name on his own. The WWE will fake it as long as they can, but if things stay the same with Strowman, he’ll eventually fade out of the company. With so many stars on Raw, we fail to see a sustainable run by this monstrous man.
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