Although WWE it’s the pinnacle of professional wrestling that most wrestlers aim to reach, it’s not the beginning and end of a career, and it doesn’t always necessarily equate to success when you finally ‘make it’. Therefore, being released from WWE is not always the end of the world.
In some cases, being released gives the wrestler the motivation to go away and improve before coming back reinvigorated in the future for more success. In other circumstances, a wrestler may find success in another promotion or on the independent scene, having more luck than they would within the confines of WWE.
10 samoa joe
During the pandemic era, Samoa Joe received his release from WWE on two separate occasions. In the second, he brought his talent and experience to ROH and AEW. After not competing in WWE regularly for a long time, Joe proved that he could still go between the ropes.
Since then, he has become the ROH World TV Champion and has won the TNT Championship twice. He doesn’t appear to be ‘injury prone’ or ‘too old’, which proves his WWE skeptics wrong. Joe has found his way once again after leaving WWE.
9 toni storm
Toni Storm lost her love for professional wrestling and decided to leave WWE, and the company agreed to release her. She appeared on AEW and found herself again, putting in great performances and winning the AEW Women’s World Title.
Storm is still young and needed to get away from WWE to make the most of her talents as they were certainly not appreciated or used well in WWE, especially when it came to the main roster.
8 jinder mahal
When Jinder Mahal was released from WWE he was just a jobber. When he re-signed with the promotion, he had undergone an incredible physical transformation during his time away from it, and it clearly impressed the higher-ups in WWE.
In just a few months, Mahal not only earned a spot in a PPV main event against Randy Orton, but also emerged the winner, clinching the WWE Championship in a huge upset. Mahal would not have made it this far without being cast initially and having better looks and physique.
7 loa thong
In WWE, Tanga Loa wrestled under the ring name Camacho. Initially he was a pain in the ass for Hunico, but both of them were just go-betweens anyway. He became a fixture in the early days of NXT Black & Gold, but despite some decent showings, he was always used as an enhancement talent until he was released.
Since leaving WWE, he has found success as Tanga Loa in NJPW, becoming a seven-time IWGP Tag Team Champion alongside his brother Tama Tonga. There’s no way he would have been as successful if he hadn’t been fired.
6 Trent Beretta
In WWE, Trent Beretta was just a billboard performer with no chance of making it. He was placed in the Dudebusters tag team, but other than some minor success in ECW, they didn’t present themselves as a threat.
His release in 2013 opened him up for what would become a solid career in the independents that saw him wind up in NJPW and AEW, as a highly respected talent and popular name, particularly in the Best Friends act alongside Chuck Taylor.
Under the ring name Derrick Bateman, EC3 showed some early promise in WWE, but never got a fair chance to show what he could do. After his release and his arrival in TNA, he became an instant success. EC3’s character and gimmick were great, seeing him rise to become World Champion.
In what was an uncertain time for the company, he was a rising star thriving in the spotlight. Eventually, he would end up back in WWE, but after an unsuccessful run, he was released once again, although this time it may not have been as positive as last time.
4 drew mcintyre
In his first run in WWE, Drew McIntyre was billed as ‘The One’ and got a push early on until things started to go downhill to the point where he was a jobber in the 3MB stable. He was released, but he used to completely reinvent himself.
McIntyre underwent a major transformation and became one of the biggest stars in independent wrestling, winning a host of titles including the IMPACT World Championship. When he returned to WWE, he looked like a star and finally achieved what he was expected to become: a WWE World Champion.
3 Matt Cardona
Despite an unrealistic amount of support at times, Matt Cardona as ‘Zack Ryder’ in WWE was unable to retain a spot in a prominent position, with Vince McMahon not endorsing him long-term. After releasing him, he opened up a whole new side of himself.
He is now one of the hottest names in independent wrestling, and his run in GCW was impressive, with it feeling that he alone gave the promotion a huge boost. He is now one of the best free agents in the business.
2 Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley seemed poised for big things in WWE, but before he got a proper boost on Raw or SmackDown, he was released from WWE. Outside of the company he showed how good he could be at IMPACT, becoming a world champion.
When he finally returned to WWE, after a small period of inactivity, he rose through the ranks to become a two-time WWE Champion, finally proving himself in the biggest company.
1 Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes wasn’t going anywhere in WWE as ‘Stardust’, so the two parties reached an agreement on his release. From there, he emerged as one of the top non-wrestling names in WWE, finding success in NJPW, ROH, and the NWA, before helping form AEW.
After his time there came to an end, he returned to WWE as a self-made main eventer, and in just one year he won the Royal Rumble and the WrestleMania main event, all of which wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been. released.