WWE is the biggest wrestling promotion in the world and has the most stacked and diverse roster. Wrestlers from all over the world dream of wrestling for the company. Every wrestler aims to perform in front of the WWE Universe and gain exposure that cannot be matched by any competitor.
While many superstars go on to do big things in the WWE, others are subjected to the company’s release hammer. The latter group are deemed surplus to requirements by those at the back and are let go to pursue other endeavors.
However, as good as the Big W’s scouting is, even they have taken significant Ls at times. This tends to take place with some of the superstars they release, who go on to achieve significant success outside of the promotion. On that note, we look at five former WWE Superstars who became more successful following their release.
Zack Ryder was everyone’s favorite babyface during his WWE stint. However, Vince McMahon and those backstage did not cash in on the potential. While they always presented him as a lovable loser, it didn’t translate to the massive success fans wanted to see him have. Even a memorable win at WrestleMania 32 was cruelly undone the very next day.
Ryder was released by the company in 2020 due to budget cuts. He has since gone on to wrestle for IMPACT and AEW, becoming one of the biggest stars in the world under the Matt Cardona name. The former Internet Champion is so popular now that there are rumors floating around regarding his return to WWE. Make it happen, Triple H.
Ruby Riott had a solid presence on the WWE roster over the years she was there. Having been a constant threat on NXT, she jumped ship to the main roster and emerged as the leader of the Riott Squad with Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan. The trio terrorized multiple superstars before they split, with the unhinged superstar venturing into the singles competition and doing well.
However, Riott was released by WWE in 2021. She wasted little time moving to AEW, where she made a big impact upon her debut. Now going by the ring name Ruby Soho, she entered the Women’s Casino Battle Royale at All Out as the joker and emerged victorious. The former Heidi Lovelace is killing it with the promotion, with her run being streets clear of what she was doing in WWE.
While it’s harsh to call Rusev‘s stint with the biggest wrestling promotion in the world a failure (RUSEV DAY!), he became a much bigger deal after his release. Miro operates on a different level from the Bulgarian Brute of old, making him one of the releases who proved the company wrong.
Rusev’s time with the market leader was eventful and filled with championships and accolades (figure that pun out), but was never quite up there. Even the critically-acclaimed Rusev Day gimmick was ultimately cast aside. His release in 2020 was panned by fans, but they rejoiced after he signed for AEW.
Miro is one of the most dangerous stars on the AEW roster. He has defeated the likes of Darby Allin, Brian Pillman Jr., Evil Uno, and Eddie Kingston, and has reigned as a mighty TNT Champion. This was the star Vince McMahon and his team missed out on.
Neville was one of the most exciting stars on the WWE roster. The Man that Gravity Forgot thrilled everyone with his daredevil, high-flying offense. However, the creative never quite pushed him to the stars, resulting in one of the most talented performers floundering in the mid-card.
Despite being a former NXT Champion and Cruiserweight Champion, Neville’s dissatisfaction with his booking led to him leaving the company. After a year away, he joined AEW and quickly became one of the hottest stars in the industry. As Pac, he wrestled in the same style that had gained him fame, but this time the King of the Cruiserweights had some top-tier bookings behind him.
In AEW, Pac holds the recognition of being the first-ever All-Atlantic Champion and the first-ever double champion in the company when he won the Trios title with his Death Triangle stablemates. Indeed, he is one of the biggest success stories to have come out in wrestling since leaving WWE.
Sigh, where to begin with this one? Cesaro was one of the most entertaining and talented performers on the WWE roster for years. What the Swiss Superman did during his time there was nothing short of spectacular, and it’s a shame the higher-ups never pushed him to the stars like he deserved to be.
Cesaro was well known on the independent scene before he made the move to WWE. He stole the spotlight in every match he was in and won multiple championships. However, The King of Swing’s main event aura was never tapped into, and he left the company at the end of his contract in 2022.
Fans were devastated to see him go, but his emergence as Claudio Castagnoli in AEW was one of the best things about the previous year. He was promptly booked as the megastar he was long touted to be, joining the Blackpool Combat Club which included Jon Moxley and Bryan Danielson, winning a Blood and Guts match, and becoming ROH World Champion. The latter was his first world title ever, and we know no one who was more deserving of it.
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