Like with any other business, budget cuts tend to take place in order for the ball to keep on rolling. The WWE uses this tactic in various forms, whether it be pulling the plug on certain WWE Network shows, or as we saw recently, cutting the pyro from the show. Another form of cutting the WWE uses is one that both fans and Superstars likely despise; the roster-cutting method by ushering pink slips. We’ve seen this more times than not on a yearly basis, and we can expect the same to unfold sooner rather than later. As of late, Eva Marie was the only significant release as the WWE let her go with the expiration of her contract. So in the words of the great Bill Goldberg: “who’s next?”
In this article, we offer a unique view on two separate topics. We’ll take a look at rumored names likely to be released, and names likely to retire. Of course, this is only speculation so don’t take all the content provided in the article to heart. Heck, Jinder Mahal likely made this list a couple of times in the past and he’s now WWE Champion!
From Big Show to T.J. Perkins, we’ve got a wide variety of WWE Superstars on this list. Enjoy, and be sure to engage in conversation via Facebook. Let’s begin!
15 Released – Hideo Itami
Back when the influx of WWE interest in Japan began, one Hideo Itami was an inaugural face from the country to join the company. Hideo became a part of NXT back in 2014 and a title run almost looked like a guarantee at that point due to his obvious skills compared to the rest. Sadly, injuries have prevented Itami from making such strides and he now seems to be an afterthought on the brand with the roster constantly building new stars.
His heel turn was a breath of fresh air, however according to the recent rumor mill, Itami might be more inclined to go back home once his contract expires. Getting older in age, Itami needs to consider his future and looking at the direction of NXT, he doesn’t seem to be at the forefront of the plans. Unless he gets an expected call-up in the near future, Itami will be released by the company and likely hit the indie scene or head back home.
14 Retire – Titus O’Neil
As of April, the WWE made the wise decision to use Titus as a manager as opposed to using him as a wrestler. Entering his 40s in the same month, Titus’ in-ring skills were on the decline, however he still oozed with charisma and was rather well rounded on the microphone. Say what you want about his in-ring performances but he’s done a decent enough job in his new gimmick with the "Titus Worldwide" brand.
Transitioning into such a role, you’d think the next logical step for Titus would be retirement from in-ring action. It doesn’t seem like O’Neil will continue his run outside of the company and he’ll likely remain an ambassador of some sort once he calls it a career. With new talent emerging and hitting his 40s months ago, that decision can take place sooner rather than later at this point.
13 Released – Kalisto
Since the departure of Rey Mysterio, the WWE has struggled to find the next marketable masked man. Rey brought the company lots of money in merchandise and was a huge star worldwide, particularly in Mexico. Coming out of AAA Mexico, the WWE had high hopes that Kalisto would have similar success, however that’s proved to be insanely inaccurate.
In terms of his in-ring skills, we can safely say that there’s nothing wrong with the high flyer who’s a tremendous talent. However, he has nowhere near the charisma and verbal skills that Mysterio has. Poor Kalisto has been cringeworthy on the microphone leading to his downfall within the company. Sooner rather than later, both sides will agree that moving on is best. Look for Kalisto to either return to AAA Mexico, or hit other indie promotions across the United States.
12 Retire – Kane
Some might say that Kane is already retired due to his new interest in the world of politics, however in a recent interview, Kane has stated that he isn’t retired and used a Vince McMahon quote: “never say never”, when it comes to a WWE return. We have reason to believe the Big Red Machine will in fact return for one more match at some point before he rides off into the sunset for good.
A member of the WWE family since the mid 90s, a Hall Of Fame induction is truly a no-brainer. Kane is one of the rare instances of a wrestler never leaving the company at any point. He was also brilliant in transitioning his character throughout the years. Though, without a doubt, we want to see him with that mask in his final WWE match.
11 Released – Summer Rae
April 3rd, 2016. That date was the last time we saw Summer Rae in a WWE match as she took to the ring in a pre-show match at WrestleMania 32. No, she hasn’t been injured ever since, instead, the WWE is clueless as to what to do with her. With the roster getting deeper and deeper, Summer has been left out in the cold for quite some time. At this point, the writing is on the wall for a release once her contract comes to an end.
Truth be told, it’s a shame given her excellent charisma. Granted, she’s not on the same level as the new generation, but she can still hold her own, especially verbally. It remains to be seen if Rae will continue in the field once her time with the company is up, or if she’ll seek a full-time gig in the entertainment world.
10 Retire – Goldust
Kind of surreal to think that Dustin’s been wrestling since the 80s, yet, he’s still taking on young blood such as Finn Balor and Bray Wyatt on episodes of Raw. Nearing his 50s at the age of 48, Runnels still has something left in the tank which deserves a huge round of applause. In fact, his character still has appeal, though it seems every time the wheels start turning creatively, the WWE inexplicably stifles his push. That’s creative for you, folks...
We expect one last push for Goldust before he calls it a career in the very near future. As for his future, expect to see Runnels as a part of the WWE family for a very long time as he’s likely going to transition into an agent for the company.
9 Release – Zack Ryder
We’d hate to compare Ryder to Goldust at this point in his career, however like Runnels, it seems like every time Ryder gets a bit of momentum it’s soon to be stifled by the company. He won the IC Ladder Match at Mania two years ago. That was the highest of highs. However, soon after, he was relegated back to the lower-card losing the title the day after and getting relegated to Tag Team duties ever since.
You’d assume Ryder was much older given the fact that he joined the company over a decade ago in 2005. However, he signed as a young prospect and is still relatively young at the age of 32. Whether it comes by Ryder deciding to move on on his own, or the WWE handing him a pink slip, Zack departing is not only best for business, but best for his career as there’s still time for the New Yorker to find success elsewhere.
8 Retire – R-Truth
Wrestlers still actively wrestling on the main roster from the mid 90s are almost extinct nowadays with the WWE constantly ushering in new talent and putting their focus on youth. Truth is one of those rare Superstars that still appears on a full-time loop, generally appearing on pre-shows and live events throughout the week. His performances have declined with age, however he can still go. Physically and in terms of appearance, the dude hasn’t aged a day, looking like he’s easily 35 and not 45.
Living life with his family quietly in North Carolina, we expect Truth to transition into the family life full-time sooner rather than later at this point. Holding a great relationship with Vince, he’ll be able to ride off into the sunset comfortably.
7 Release – T.J. Perkins
Turning back the clock to a year ago, thinking about such a release would have been downright preposterous. Perkins was on top of the wrestling world winning the Cruiserweight Classic Tournament. The entire event received huge praise and fans salivated at the prospect of the division joining the Raw show.
Of course, expectations came crashing down when it was made evident that the company was putting their own “WWE spin” on the product, which means tacky cringeworthy segments filled with useless verbal jousting. Superstars have been used poorly and it even led to one of them leaving, Austin Aries. We seriously hope this one doesn’t occur, but given his insane obvious talent, Perkins can easily follow in the same footsteps as Aries, betting on his talent elsewhere. With Perkins being buried by bookings, he can be the next in line to sink the Cruiserweight ship even further by parting ways.
6 Retire – Big Show
No disrespect to the future Hall Of Famer, but it's years now that the WWE Universe is expecting the big man to call it a career. Who can forget those “please retire" chants? Ouch! However, let’s give the 45 year old some credit, as he wasn't willing to let go that quickly and made significant changes to justify his decision. Show lost an insane amount of weight and has put on terrific matches; his recent cage bout against Strowman was arguably the best match of his entire career. You have to respect the guy for giving it his all at this point in his career.
2018 surely seems like the end for Big Show. We expect WrestleMania to likely be his swan song. Like the others we’ve mentioned on the list, you can expect Big Show to have a job with the company for a very long time behind the scenes.
5 Release – Erick Rowan
Let’s be honest here, most of you likely forgot Rowan was even part of the WWE to begin with. He’s been off television for months now as the WWE is apparently repackaging both Rowan and Harper.
Out of the two, Harper is certainly the one with the most upside given his in-ring talent for a big man. Rowan was always more of a background player and limited when it comes to in-ring ability. Yes, he has tremendous size but that hasn’t proven to be enough, especially in terms of a connection with the WWE Universe. Following his next repackaged stint, we expect Rowan to be cut by the WWE due to budget cuts, and bringing newer, younger talent. Expect Rowan to continue on the indie scene, something he did for a large portion of his career before entering the WWE.
4 Retire – Natalya
Praise the Lord, Nattie is finally Women’s Champion once again. Despite having a wealth of experience and knowing the ropes more so than any other female, Natalya only had one title reign to show for since her time with the company. She’s finally champion over on SmackDown and we hope the title reign can last a little longer.
Outside of the ring, Nattie is extremely busy, according to the rumor mill, she’s been helping out the Four Horsewomen of the UFC behind the scenes as they train for a debut in the near future. Nattie is in the Orlando area on the regular as lots of Superstars request her help whether it be in the ring, or with advice. Sooner or later, she’ll have to call it a career in the ring, as her services seem to be as valuable out of the ring as a trainer, as they are in the ring as the champ.
3 Released – Dolph Ziggler
If this new Dolph Ziggler character isn’t the end, we really don’t know what is. Poor Dolph is just a “guy” at this point, and no, not like Roman Reigns, he isn’t close to being “the guy” any longer as that ship has sailed a while ago. It appears as though the company has lost faith in the veteran, being relegated to a silly gimmick which consists of coming out to other wrestler entrances.
For Ziggler, the rumor mill has been linking him to an exit for quite some time. The talented Superstar does have his options. He loves the world of standup comedy along with stating he’d make a jump to Japan to prolong his wrestling career. Given the fact that he can still go, a Japan departure would make most sense. We would expect this announcement to be made in the near future but don’t hold your breath, we’ve been saying said statement for over a year now.
2 Retire – Enzo Amore
Some of you might be scratching your heads reading this one, especially due to the fact that Enzo is currently at the peak of his career as a WWE Cruiserweight Champion. Though, we have reason to believe such a push won’t last the test of time and given Enzo’s personal life, he’s already testing out the waters outside of the company. He might not appear like the sharpest tool in the shed, but he’s actually a genius when it comes to pushing his brand.
Spending time with countless celebs, his name is certainly out there. He’s also mentioned transitioning into a rapper eventually. Given his erratic behavior and love for the spotlight, we can expect Amore to call it a career sooner rather than later in an attempt to make a mainstream jump as a rapper, or something in the entertainment realm.
1 Released – Lana
Oh Lana, what have they done to you? Nowadays, the Ravishing Russian is known more for her Twitter antics blasting fans than her actual work inside of the WWE. She had huge value as a manager, but for whatever reason, the WWE made the career-killing decision to put her in the ring. Because of that said decision, her value has diminished terribly. The company is trying to rewrite this wrong by putting her back as a manager, this time in Tamina’s corner, but in truth, it’s far too late.
On the bright side, many question Lana’s motives, claiming she’s only in the business for fame. If you take a look at her Instagram account, you’d agree with such a statement as she appears to be a fashion model rather than a WWE Superstar. It’ll be interesting to see how this situation plays out.
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