To prospective WWE superstars, reaching the biggest stage of pro-wrestling must seem like a dream come true. Many will spend years training, and more years still on the independent scene all in the hopes of being scouted by the WWE.
While other wrestling promotions might be able to offer more flexible schedules, more intriguing storylines, and in some cases even better pay, the WWE is most often the pro-wrestling company up-and-coming wrestlers watched growing up - the one they dreamed about competing in.
Sometimes, though, wrestlers will achieve their dream but things aren’t all they are cracked up to be once they get there. The travel schedule, the backstage politics, the wear and tear on their bodies, and time spent away from families have often proved just too much for some potential superstars. With increasing frequency wrestlers who dreamed their whole lives of making it to the WWE, they find themselves wanting to be anywhere but there once they arrive.
The wrestlers on this list all found themselves in a position where they asked to be released from their WWE contracts to pursue other interests. Or, they simply didn't want to deal with the trials and tribulations that come from being a WWE Superstar:
15 Ashley Massaro
Ashley Massaro won the 2005 Raw Diva Search contest, and went on to have a decent few years in the WWE, before asking for her release in 2008.
Massaro would manage the team of Paul London and Brian Kendrick, a group that reminded many of the Hardy Boyz and Lita trio that had been so popular a few years prior. In 2007, while still working with the WWE, she was granted permission to take some time away from the company to film Survivor: China. She didn’t last long on the show, however, getting voted off in just the second episode.
14 The Sandman
When the WWE re-launched the ECW brand in 2006, it wasn’t really the return of the company. Sandman was one of many names from ECW’s past that were brought in following the second One Night Stand PPV. The new ECW never fully encapsulated the feel of the original brand, and the response from fans was largely negative.
13 Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his role in a series of armed robberies in the 1980s, though he would only ever serve seven. From Queensland, Australia, Jones was only 18 years old when he was sent to prison. A gigantic man at 7 feet tall, rumors started to develop around him, including that he was able to rip off his cell door and snap handcuffs. He became to be known as “the Colossus of Boggo Road” - Boggo Road being the location of his incarceration.
12 Monty Brown (Marcus Cor Von)
Monty Brown played professional football with both the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots. In 1994, Brown would even play in the Super Bowl, albeit as part of a losing effort for the Bills. It seemed that Brown really wanted to be a professional wrestler, however, as he would later state that the reason he signed with the Patriots is because he wanted to be close to Stanford, Connecticut - WWE’s home base.
11 CJ Parker
That annoying hippy from NXT is gone. Don’t get too comfortable, however; he will most likely be back some day. CJ Parker asked for and was granted his release from the WWE so that he could compete under New Japan Pro Wrestling. Parker debuted with the Japanese-based promotion in 2015 under the name Juice Robinson.
10 Solomon Crowe
Better known to independent wrestling fans as Sami Callahan, Samuel Johnston went by the name Solomon Crowe in NXT. Before being signed by WWE and reporting to their developmental system, Crowe had wrestled for almost every major independent wrestling promotion in the United States. Crowe made stops in Chikara, Ring of Honor, Pro-Wrestling Guerrilla and Combat Zone Wrestling before WWE decided to scoop him up in 2013.
9 Duke “the Dumpster” Droese
Back in 1994, the WWE was still heavy into “gimmicks”. This was an awkward era for the company, when it was struggling to find itself since Vince McMahon’s steroid trial and Hulk Hogan’s exiting in 1993. It seemed WWE was throwing a lot of things up against the wall to see what would stick; Doink was the evil clown that made children cry, Kane played the role of Dr. Isaac Yankem DDS (a devious dentist), and Mike Droese took on the role of Duke “the Dumpster” Droese, a garbage collector.
8 Brian Kendrick
Brian Kendrick was part of the first graduating class of the Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy, along with Daniel Bryan and Lance Cade. He competed for ROH under the name Spanky, and quickly gained a reputation for being a solid worker.
In WWE, he would form a popular team with Paul London before heading into his singles career where at one point, Ezekiel Jackson was assigned to be his bodyguard.
7 Kelly Kelly
Barbara Blank was working as a model when John Laurinatis discovered her and decided WWE needed to hire the young attractive model. She would make her debut as part of the new ECW in 2006, taking part in very revealing “Extreme Expose” videos that almost showed the 19 year old topless.
6 Gail Kim
Gail Kim would wrestle two stints in the WWE; one from 2002-04 in which the company decided to release her, and again from 2008 to 2011 where she requested they release her.
Hailing from Toronto, Kim has always been thought of as a very good worker, which is why it was somewhat of a surprise when the company released her in 2004. After catching on in TNA, the company hired her back in 2008, but Kim was never happy with how they used her upon her return.
A lot of people had high hopes for Low-Ki when he was signed to the WWE in 2008. Low-Ki had played a pivotal role in the early success of TNA’s X-Division and had established himself as someone die-hard wrestling purists could really enjoy.
4 Molly Holly
Real name Nora Greenwald, Molly Holly might be the most wholesome wrestler in the history of the business. Known for having a sweet and nurturing personality, Holly would request her release from WWE in 2005, for reasons she has decided to keep private. Greenwald started in the business as “Ms. Madness” in WCW, one of a team of ring valets that accompanied “Macho Man” Randy Savage to the ring in 1999.
As a 16-year-old, MVP was sentenced to 18 years in prison for kidnapping and armed robbery. However, he would be released in less than 10. While in prison, he changed his name to Hassan Assad. The WWE signed Assad in 2005 and he would make his debut as the blue-chip free agent prospect MVP in 2006.
2 Marty Jannetty
Who doesn’t love Mary Jannetty? For years, Jannetty was one half of the very popular team “the Rockers” along with Shawn Michaels. In 1991, the WWE decided to split the team up and did so in a most spectacular way.
In what would become a famous clip the WWE would play for years to come, Michaels turned on Jannetty and threw him through a glass window that was part of Brutus Beefcake’s “Barber Shop” interview segment set. The WWE was not initially able to capitalize on the impactful moment, as Jannetty was sentenced to six months house arrest for an alleged physical altercation with a police officer.
1 CM Punk
CM Punk’s last match in a WWE ring was the 2014 Royal Rumble where Kane eliminated him.
In what was the most public breakup WWE had with any performer since the Bret Hart Montreal Screwjob fiasco in 97, Punk would open up about his time in WWE on his friend Colt Cabana’s podcast - blasting the company for numerous things. High on his list was a promise he felt the WWE failed to deliver on for him to compete in the main event of WrestleMania. Evidently competing the final match on the card was a career goal of Punk’s, and something he wanted to achieve before he finally called it a career.
Sources: Prowrestling.wikia.com, PWInsider.com, CourierMail.co.uk, EWrestlingNews.com, WrestlingInc.com
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