With both WrestleMania 35 and the Superstar Shake-up in the review mirror, WWE will be taking a long look at their talent pool. With talent waiting in the wings to shine on RAW and Smackdown, fans are waiting to be entertained.
Each year, WWE performs "spring cleaning" on their roster. Usually, around April of each year, fans can expect to see news articles about performers being wished "all the best in their future endeavors." While there have been many shocking releases over the years, it is usually done in order to make room for newly contracted wrestlers. It is never a good feeling to see people lose their jobs, but it is also a very exciting thing to monitor. Sometimes wrestlers have reached the end of their career, and other times they are looking for a way out. With such a large talent pool, there are always a lot of difficult decisions to be made.
At the same time, this also means there are new openings on the roster. With NXT producing so much great talent, and the independent promotions more alive than ever, it is a great time to be a wrestling fan. New talent can mean great things for WWE and can light a stale roster on fire. WWE has also become more liberal with their hiring over the years, and are bringing in all sorts of names. Wrestlers from all over the world are on the table for WWE, so some new faces are certainly up for discussion.
Whether coming or going, only one question remains – will it result in success for WWE?
Here are 7 WWE Debuts And 13 Releases Coming After WrestleMania 35.
20 Release: Sasha Banks
If this article had been written only mere months ago, the thought of The Boss leaving WWE would be unfathomable. However, given the recent reports of her unhappiness following WrestleMania 35's outcome, it has become much more possible. Despite being well-featured over her career in WWE thus far, Sasha has reportedly been unhappy with her current trajectory. With her allegedly asking for her own release recently and being denied, perhaps a big career move is still on the horizon.
Since joining WWE in 2012, Sasha has been a cornerstone of the Women's division. However, prior to her WWE career, she did not have a high degree of success on the independent circuit. While seven years in WWE would certainly change that, returning to independent promotions is certainly a gamble. Sasha would certainly be successful given her talent, however, there are a lot of variables at play here.
19 Debut: Conor McGregor
Given the success of Ronda Rousey since she joined WWE in 2018, it stands to reason that other fighters from the mixed martial arts world would also look to transition. When looking at other big name fighters, Conor McGregor instantly springs to mind. Following a great career with the UFC, McGregor recently announced his retirement from MMA. With his schedule now open, a WWE career could be on the horizon.
McGregor has flirted with WWE action before, particularly in 2016 when he stirred up a mess of controversy by calling out the WWE roster. His tweets calling out all wrestlers put a target on his back but also proved just how good of a heel he could be. With Stephanie McMahon not shying away from addressing that he would be very successful in WWE, a debut for the "Notorious" one is not as farfetched as it once seemed.
18 Release: Dolph Ziggler
The Show-off has had a roller coaster career in WWE since he initially signed in 2004. At some points, WWE Management will be very high on him, and at others, he appears to be being buried right in front of the fans. If his recent showcase on television is any indication, he has once again been pushed down the ladder. However, it seems that Ziggler has discovered another passion of his which could take him away from WWE for longer than expected.
Following the Royal Rumble 2019, Ziggler began heavily pursuing a career in standup comedy. Directly following his appearance at the Rumble, he began the DZ Comedy Tour, which has dates through the end of March. While he could reappear following the tour, he has invested a lot of time in this new career. Could it mean that he parts ways with WWE more permanently in order to pursue it?
17 Release: No Way Jose
No Way Jose? More like, No Reaction Jose. Despite being a popular wrestler during his time with NXT, Jose's transition to the main roster in 2018 was not successful. His party-going gimmick seems to have gone a similar way as Adam Rose's did - large audiences are not interested. Jose has been puttering around the lower card on RAW since his debut, and has been little more than cannon fodder for other wrestlers.
While Jose is a talented entertainer, WWE's experiment with him should be ending soon. When WWE begins their "spring cleaning" of wrestlers whoa re not making the cut, it shouldn't be surprising to see Jose near the top of that list. With so many talented wrestlers waiting in NXT to be called up, WWE needs to be making more room on their roster.
16 Debut: Dalton Castle
When a wrestler achieves great success outside of WWE, it is often an indicator that they will eventually join the company. With so many former Ring of Honor World Champions on the roster, WWE must consider it a shining achievement. Following a 197-day World Championship reign, Castle has been sidelined with injuries. However, prior to this, there was a lot of talk about WWE being interested in this showman.
With incredible pure-wrestling ability combined with a flair for showmanship, Castle has been a fixture on the independent circuit for over ten years. His gimmick has carried him through multiple promotions and has turned the head of WWE officials. Following his recovery, he should continue to be on the radar to make his debut.
15 Release: Aiden English
Having variety in professional wrestling is very important, however, perhaps this crooner has sung his last note. It appears as though his in-ring career is already coming to a close since transitioning to 205-Live commentator, however it could also mean the writing is on the wall for how WWE feels about his talents.
Despite being heavily involved in one of WWE's most organically popular gimmicks last year, English has done little to separate himself from the pack. Now that Rusev Day is continuing on without him, he does not have a spot for him. While spending time on commentary is a good use of his talents, it is not a very sustainable gig. Do not be surprised if English's name is one of the releases called in the next few weeks.
14 Release: Shelton Benjamin
Bringing back Shelton Benjamin at the time of the brand split was a great move. Benjamin's natural athleticism and charisma have always made him a favorite of wrestling fans, and they couldn't wait to see him finally get a chance in the spotlight. However, his time since rejoining WWE in 2017 has been with little direction. In fact, most fans likely forget that he is back with the company at this point.
Despite being a great performer, Benjamin is reaching the twilight of his career at 43. Considering that he has not accomplished much since rejoining, it is unlikely that a big push is coming his way. While toiling around on house shows is nothing to be ashamed of, it may be time for Benjamin to consider hanging up his boots.
13 Debut: Emma/Tenille Dashwood
When former Superstars achieve success outside of WWE, it is great to see. Wrestling fans knew that Emma was a special wrestler, but unfortunately, her time with the company was not entirely favorable. In fact, many fans considered her to be considerably under-utilized for most of her tenure. When she was released in 2017, fans were very disappointed as it meant that she would not be in the spotlight anymore.
Thankfully, Emma returned under her real name Tenille Dashwood and began wrestling for Ring of Honor. Over the past two years, she has succeeded in showing off her wrestling skills and has made the Women of Honor division one to rival WWE's. With still so much career in front of her, returning to WWE is a very big possibility. It seems less of a matter of "if" she returns, but more about "when."
12 Release: Eric Young
The recent Superstar Shakeup moved Eric Young from Smackdown Live to RAW, but one big question remains - will that be enough to showcase his abilities? Those that know Eric Young realize that he has the ability to be the face of an entire division. However, his main roster tenure has been one of the most disappointing call ups in recent memory. Young is a very proud wrestler, and he cannot be pleased with how his career has stalled.
Earlier in 2018, fellow members of sAnity went on a Twitter frenzy regarding their position with the company. While Young's roster change could help his career, it may continue to be more of the same. If things do not improve over the next few months, Young could be among one of the many wrestlers to choose to walk out of their contract.
11 Release: Lio Rush
Lio Rush is no stranger to controversy during his WWE career. After only being signed with NXT for mere weeks, he made a large blunder and wound up in the dog house. By making an unsavory joke about Emma's release on Twitter, he became a pariah in the locker room. Following his return from locker room exile, he wound up in his current role on RAW. While things appear to be going well for him now, some say it is only a matter of time before he makes a fool of himself again.
Rush's role as Lashley's hype man has been successful in its main goal – he is annoying every fan in attendance. However, with Rush also being an accomplished wrestler in his own right, frustration may begin to boil over. If he does not get the opportunity to showcase his skills, his mouth may get him in trouble again.
10 Debut: Michael Elgin
Despite never working for WWE before, Michael Elgin is one that should be on their radar. Elgin is widely considered to be one of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers on the independent circuit. He has just been biding his time while waiting for his shot at the big time. After making a name for himself in both Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling, there is no time like the present for him to be scooped up.
Elgin may have had his brushes with controversy, but his wrestling skills cannot be denied. In fact, he fits in directly with the current model of WWE's current success stories. With a storied history on the independent circuit and the skills to back them up, he would be a shoo-in for success.
9 Release: Bo Dallas
Some folks are big successes in developmental territories but are not able to generate the same success on the main roster. Bo Dallas is the unfortunate poster-boy for that statement. Despite holding the record for the longest NXT Championship reign, he has not had nearly the same success since his main roster debut. In fact, he has had several gimmicks revolving around his losing record while on the RAW roster. Wouldn't this be concerning for anyone's career?
Despite the success he achieved recently as one half of the B-Team, it was not enough to make him a household name. Numerous wrestlers have been flash-in-the-pan tag teams before, but it does not mean they are immune from being released. Unfortunately for Dallas, his second-generation status may not be enough to save him from this round of cuts.
8 Release: Kassius Ohno
Despite the vast amount of independent wrestling credibility that Kassius Ohno came into WWE with, he has not achieved a high level of success. So many other wrestlers moved on to the main roster around him, yet he has been relegated to mid-card status. Performing at a high level in NXT is certainly nothing to scoff at, yet his career has become stalled.
Recent newcomers to NXT like Matt Riddle and Keith Lee have been placed in feuds with Ohno. The end result has been the same – Ohno is left lying on the mat. His status as a "gatekeeper" for new talent has resulted in him losing stock in the eyes of fans. Perhaps finding greener pastures alongside his friends in AEW may be the best route for "the knockout kid".
7 Debut: Nick Aldis
If this article had been written in the 1970s, the idea of the NWA World Champion being a part of WWE would have been a no-brainer. However, with the NWA World Championship not being as prestigious as it used to, it warrants a second look. Thankfully, Nick Aldis has been a huge part of giving the Championship more value than it has in recent years.
Out of most people on this list, Aldis has proven that he can carry a promotion on his back. From his reign as TNA Heavyweight Champion up until his current stint with the NWA, Aldis has proven his worth. With WWE continuing to expand its UK brand and in need of more top stars, Aldis should be looked at. Couple this with his marriage to Mickie James and all signs point to him beginning a career with WWE.
6 Release: Alicia Fox
At one point, Alicia Fox had been building up her credibility in the ring and was on track for a great career. Despite entering the business with little knowledge about professional wrestling, she has grown into a great in-ring character. Unfortunately, her personal demons have prevented her from achieving her potential. Recent reports surfaced that Fox had wrestled intoxicated recently, which led to the release of Arn Anderson.
No amount of in-ring potential or company loyalty should make up for reckless decision making. Fox could have achieved some great things, but the writing is on the wall about her future with WWE. Thankfully WWE has a great track record with helping their employees overcome addiction, but this also means that her in-ring career is just about finished. When all is said and done, this could mean the end for Alicia Fox.
5 Release: The Singh Brothers
During Jinder Mahal's 2017 WWE Championship reign, The Singh Brothers were instrumental for his character. In an effort to generate heat for Mahal, Sunil and Samir are great at their role. However, since Mahal has fallen from main event status, they are becoming less useful members of the roster. The brothers may have shown prowess in the ring, but their time in WWE is coming to an end.
Without a Champion to work for, the Singh's are losing their value. Instead, they are just two undersized wrestlers on the roster standing at ringside. Jinder maintains his value as an active performer, but without main event status even his need for managers is diminished. As a cost-cutting measure, do not be surprised at their impending release.
4 Debut: Rob Gronkowski
Based on Ronda Rousey's success, WWE knows that bringing in celebrities has a high upside. In fact, WWE has been well known for utilizing celebrities in the past in order to garner new audience members. Couple this with Gronk's prior appearance with WWE, and this could happen sooner than later.
Since retiring from the NFL, Gronkowski surely needs something to do with his time. Considering he did not retire due to any career-threatening injuries, his ability to perform physically is not under question. While there is a steep learning curve to becoming a professional wrestler, there is no rush to him joining the company. A signing with this magnitude could be big for WWE, and would surely help with bringing in new fans to the product.
3 Release: Curtis Axel
Despite having all the promise in the world as a performer, it has never been the right time for Curtis Axel in WWE. With mild success as both a singles and tag team competitor, Axel has never been able to find clear footing. While his second-generation status does give him lineage, it does not guarantee him a spot with WWE forever.
Following the flash-in-the-pan success of The B-Team, his career has once again fallen into obscurity. When looking at some of the new faces on the RAW roster, Axel must be asking himself what he brings to the table. Unfortunately, it is not at the level of wrestlers like Alistar Black or Ricochet, which spells trouble. Despite having so much promise, Axel may be on his way out to make room for the new generation.
2 Release: The Colons
If the fact that The Colons are still employed by WWE is a surprise, then their impending release makes sense. With the pair not wrestling on television since Survivor Series 2018, it is a wonder they are still cashing cheques. However, both Primo and Epico Colon are still members of the Smackdown roster.
With so much competition from independent promotions on the horizon, WWE appears to be hanging on to talent simply for competition sake. It must be painful for two wrestlers with such a rich lineage to be sitting on the sidelines. Yet, they have likely remained with the company simply for the need to make a living. However, do not be surprised if they find a way to get out of their contracts sooner than later.
1 Debut: Scarlett Bordeaux
Despite their intense focus on the wrestling aspect of female performers, WWE does not shy away from pretty faces. In fact, since losing Eva Marie in 2017, WWE has struggled to find their "model" for the camera. WWE's talent scouts have not shied away from finding talent in other promotions before, and Scarlett Bordeaux is right up their alley.
While Bordeaux has begun sharpening up her skills in Impact Wrestling, she has done work with WWE before. Who is to say that if they came knocking again that she would refuse them? Bordeaux may not have the in-ring abilities of Charlotte of Becky, but she is the type of character that WWE knows how to work well with. Perhaps her recent Impact debut could be one of her last matches?
Are there any other wrestlers coming or going from WWE soon? Let us know in the comments!