Since he took over the WWE in 1980, Vince McMahon quickly built the promotion to the biggest in the business. The takeover was completed in 2001 when he bought out chief rival WCW. Since then, wrestlers have seen the WWE as the big leagues.
And wrestlers who make it to the “big leagues” typically want to stay there. But Vince McMahon has been proven to be a vindictive boss. Performers who fall n his bad side are almost never welcome back. Here are a number of grapplers unlikely to be seen in the WWE again.
Colin Cassady seemed like he was created in a Vince McMahon dream. Not only was the 6-10 former basketball player gigantic and light on his feet. He was also about as good at cutting promos as anyone in the promotion.
Once he got to the big stage and was separated from former partner Enzo Amore, he rose fast through the ranks and began to wrestle near the top of the card. He was reportedly disrespectful to McMahon, though, and was cut from the WWE. He has since wrestled for indie organizations like Ring of Honor and House of Hardcore.
Ryan Reaves, also referred to as Ryback, was another wrestler who perfectly fit Vince McMahon’s preferred profile. While he wasn’t very good on the microphone, he was a good athlete who’s physique seemed borderline impossible.
And Ryback had a very good run in the WWE, winning the Intercontinental Championship. Other wrestlers didn’t like him, though, complaining he was reckless. Once he left the promotion he badmouthed the organization, likely kissing any shot at reconciliation goodbye.
CM Punk was always a popular superstar within the WWE, but by the end of his tenure there, he was on Rock/Stone Cold levels of popularity. At WWE events, especially those in Chicago, fans still chant his name.
But no one should ever expect him back in the promotion. The relationship between Punk and management was strained before he left wrestling for a career in MMA. The WWE went as far as suing Punk and fellow wrestler Colt Cabana for slander. Oddly enough, Punk did take a job with Fox Sports to appear on WWE Backstage as a contributor an analyst, hoping to use it as a way to mend fences.
With everything he had to offer, Cody Rhodes had the makings of a long-time WWE Champion. The grappler had the looks, wrestling ability, personality and pedigree that should have signaled superstardom. While he had a good run in the promotion, he never quite reached those heights.
Since he left the WWE, he’s started a rival promotion, AEW, that is a major hit with fans. Vince is not one to take threats to his promotion lightly, of course, so don’t expect Rhodes back anytime soon.
Ken Anderson, who wrestled in the WWE as Mr. Kennedy, quickly rose to the top of the card. Not only did he have significant wrestling ability, but he also had incredible charisma which rapidly put him over with the fans.
Anderson, however, was not as skilled at locker room politics and reportedly feuded with megastar Randy Orton. While he had some success at TNA post-WWE, the last few years have been rough. He is unlikely to be on McMahon’s radar at this point.
Darren Young and his tag team partner, Titus O’Neal were quite popular in the WWE as the Prime Time Players. The duo was frequently in the championship mix and won the title one time.
During his WWE run, Young also became the first wrestler in the promotion to come out as gay. He was then separated from O’Neal and had a singles run that didn’t quite get over the hump. He has said that he’d like to return to the promotion, although those hopes have not been realized.
When Damien Sandow came to the WWE, the promotion didn’t seem to know what to do with him. His cocky genius persona was sort of popular with fans, but McMahon didn’t want to run with it.
He was then named the bodyguard to the Miz and despite the silly gimmick, became one of the hottest stars in the company. Even with his newfound popularity, he never got a big push. Sandow has not left wrestling completely but now seems more interested in pursuing acting roles.
Simon Gotch came into the WWE as a beloved figure on the indie scene. He was a super unique throwback with old school catch wrestling ability and a quirky personality. He and partner Aiden English killed in NXT as the Vaudevillains.
When they got to the WWE, though, English’s star began to shine brighter and the team was split apart. Gotch was unable to get over as a singles wrestler and he received his release from the company. He now wrestles for New York’s Major League wrestling.
Matt Sydal, called Evan Bourne while with the WWE, was not Vince McMahon’s type of wrestler. At least during the time he spent in the promotion from 2007-2014. Today, the promotion is much friendlier to undersized high flyers.
That’s not to say he didn’t have success. His partnership with Kofi Kingston in Air Boom was a particular highlight. He was released after a second Wellness Test failure. Sydal has done well in the Indies, but won’t be back in the WWE.
There was nothing about Enzo Amore that would make you think he could find success in professional wrestling. He was tiny for the sport and didn’t have remarkable wrestling skills. But the second he got on the microphone, it all made sense.
While Amore served as the Cruiserweight Champion in 2018, he was accused of inappropriate behavior and was released from the company. Later that year, Amore caused a disruption at a WWE event ensuring that he’d never work in the promotion again.
Chavo Guerrero, another member of wrestling royalty, had a very nice run in the WWE. He had a memorable team-up with his real-life uncle, Eddie Guerrero, as Los Guerreros. He was also a 6-time Cruiserweight Champion and won the ECW Title as well.
The 10-year veteran was released from the promotion in 2011. He’s done very well in various indies like TNA, Lucha Underground, and his own Nacion Lucha Libre. As a competitor to McMahon, he is not likely to be welcomed back.
Wade Barrett was absolutely everything a wrestling promotion could ask for. He was big, charismatic and had a killer British villain persona. He succeeded fast in the organization winning King of the Ring and taking home the Intercontinental title 5 times.
Barrett, however, had a number of injuries that derailed his momentum. Thanks to those maladies he has not wrestled since 2016 and is unlikely to do so again. He has worked with other promotions like WCPW and Lucha Underground as a non-wrestling talent.
Alberto Del Rio
When Alberto Del Rio came to the WWE, it was kind of like in Major League Baseball when a team brings over a superstar from Japan. Del Rio’s reputation proceeded him as he had been a massive star in Mexico and Japan.
He was a major star in the WWE winning 4 Heavyweight Championships, a Royal Rumble and Money in the Bank. He was released from the promotion after a confrontation with an official who made a racist remark. He’s done great on the indie scene and doesn’t seem to be interested in a return.
Eva Marie seemed destined for stardom from the moment she entered NXT. Thanks to her model looks and cocky personality, she drew plenty of heat from the fans. And when Vince McMahon sees a wrestler rile up fans, he sees dollar signs.
The biggest problem with Eva Marie, though, was her extremely limited wrestling skills. Fans further disliked her after her appearances on Total Divas. The company released her from her contract in 2017 and she hasn’t wrestled since.
Dylan Mark Postl, called Hornswoggle in the WWE, entered the promotion with a leprechaun gimmick. He was later imagined as Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son. The good-natured grappler would quickly become a prominent part of WWE.
Hornswoggle spent 10 years in the WWE including a stint as the Raw General Manager. In 2016, he was suspended for a violation of the organization’s wellness policy. He has been working on the indie circuit, but McMahon typically has a zero tolerance policy with drug tests.
When Vince McMahon’s son-in-law Triple H was put in charge of the NXT Division he put a focus on building the best women’s division in the sport. One of his first big success stories was Tenille Dashwood, then known as Emma.
Thanks to her wrestling ability and quirky personality, she was well received by fans of the promotion. Sadly, she failed pushed through frequent injuries leading to her eventual release. She’s done well on the indie circuit, but McMahon doesn’t see her as a star.
Carlito Colon comes from wrestling royalty. His father Carlos Colon Sr. was also a grappler who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014. Carlito followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a WWE star in the early 2000s.
The Puerto Rican superstar won the Tag Team titles, the US Championship, and the Intercontinental belt while with the promotion. He struggled with substance issues, though, and refused help from the WWE. In early 2020, Colon signed a new contract with the WWE, but has not made an appearance yet.
AJ Lee dreamed of wrestling in the WWE since she was very young. The promotion often showed a video of Lee meeting former star Lita when she was a tween. Despite her diminutive size, she realized this dream fast, winning the Divas Championship three times in her early 20’s.
By 2015, though, her career was over. Even though she was only 28-years-old at the time, she hasn’t wrested again. Lee felt caught in the middle of the dispute between her husband CM Punk and the WWE and decided retirement was her best course of action.
Montell Vontavious Porter, stylized as MVP, had a gimmick based on the personalities of the early 2000’s biggest athletes. And he was quite popular with the fans. He was also a titleholder, winning the US Championship twice and the Tag Team belts once.
His gimmick started to wear off after a while and he was released by the WWE in 2010. He’s had plenty of success outside of the promotion, specifically with TNA, but until recently McMahon has been unwilling to bring him back. On January 22nd, 2020, MVP did return to the ring at Royal Rumble, but according to Wrestling Observer Live, his new stint is planned as a very short one.
Vince Russo was one of the WWE’s head writers for many years before being banished. Well, not quite banished, but the chances of him coming back are thin to none. In 2002, after a brief return to the promotion, he lamented, “no way in the world that this thing would work out.”
He then left the WWE to write for Total Non-Stop-Action wrestling (TNA), where he stayed until 2014. In 2017 he took a job writing for Aro Lucha, but that only lasted a year. Today, thank’s to the WWE storylines he penned, he is seen as a controversial figure among fans.
Sometimes things just aren’t meant to be. Take, for example, Jason Anthony Paul, who is better known by his WWE moniker of JTG. He initially was made famous for teaming up with Shad, a marriage that didn’t last long.
Throughout the rest of his run with the promotion, he changed gimmicks several times, but never found one that would stick. Eventually, Vince McMahon was forced to reevaluate the one time star’s status with the WWE. Today, JTG sticks to the indie circuit.
Rob Van Dam
A fan favorite with a long career in the WWE, Rob Van Dam might be too old these days to return. He has also associated himself more recently with other promotions including Total Impact Wrestling, “impacting” the way Vince McMahon likely views him.
Still, in 2019 he made a cameo during a Raw reunion, so maybe he will make an in-ring return someday. Sadly, we don’t see that happening anytime soon.
From 2001 until 2011, Melina had a popular run with the WWE, even winning the WWE Divas Champion belt at one point. Unfortunately, Melina was released from her contract one week after losing a match to Beth Phoenix.
Almost right away, Melina joined the independent circuit as she tried to claw her way back to the top. In 2019, she joined the NWA, where she has become one of the promotions biggest heels.
Ken Shamrock is considered a legendary wrestler today, but that status won’t open the door back up for him in the WWE. During his original run with the corporation, he began working as an MMA fighter, eventually making it his full-time career.
After ending his MMA run in 2019, Shamrock signed with with TNA, which changed its name to Impact Wrestling. This decision likely ended any chance Shamrock would reunite with McMahon and WWE.
Victoria might have been one of the few WWE stars who was too intense for the promotion. When she was in the ring, literally anything could happen. She was a wildcard with a wild attitude.
When she left the promotion in 2009, we can only imagine Vince McMahon was a little relieved. She quickly began a career in MMA and even tried to break into Hollywood while also making appearances for TNA. Today, she’s has made it known she would like to return to the WWE, but her age might get in the way.
Of all the former stars on this list, we can say with absolute certainty that Rich Swann will never make a return to the WWE. Vince McMahon has a pretty strict no crime policy, which is why he “mutually parted ways” with Swann originally.
Today, Swann continues to wrestle for Impact Wrestling, where he has won the X Division Championship. Since his original charges were dismissed, he might even have dreams of a WWE return, but as we said, that’s very unlikely.
D’Angelo Dinero could have been a huge star in the WWE. The problem was he just wasn’t talented enough. He fought with the WWE for four years before being released from the promotion in 2008.
Eventually, Dinero would sign with TNA, which would be a good place for him to hone his talent. In 2017, Dinero was released from that promotion and fell back down to the indie circuit. At this point, we don’t see him ascending back to the top.
Let Spike Dudley Handle Your Finances
Spike Dudley’s wrestling career didn’t pan out how he expected. As he was attempting to find himself in the ring, he ended up finding himself thrown around like an old doll. Waking up the next morning couldn’t have been fun for Dudley. One day he decided to put more interest in money.
Dudley made the career change to a financial planner. It may not be as fun as the WWE, but it pays the bills. He carries an extremely positive attitude toward his new job, so you could say he’s enjoying it. “I’m helping people live a better life and take care of their families. It’s beyond rewarding,” Spike said.
Do Yoga With Diamond Dallas Page
Diamond Dallas Page used to be a WCW champion. He always motivated the crowd to get charged up with his antics, and he had some of the smoothest finishers in the sport. It looks like he incorporated those same motivational skills to his new profession.
Page now has the DDP Yoga Program since retiring from wrestling. He teaches his own brand that involves bodyweight exercises. Many who have used it in the past years praise it due to their weight loss and added flexibility.
Stasiak Will Fix Your Back
Shawn Stasiak went from breaking backs in the ring to correcting them on the table. He wasn’t much of a star in the WWE, but Stasiak did gain some fans as “Meat” doing favors for the Pretty Mean Sisters. Soon, the WWE stamped a dumb gimmick on him that we would never overcome. They eventually released him in 2002.
Upon release, Stasiak became a professional chiropractor. “It’s such a blessing to be able to make so many positive life changes for people, to get them out of debilitating pain and to guide them to a better quality of life not just physically, but mentally and spiritually,” Stasiak said.
Did You Imagine Snitsky Would Become An Actor?
Unlike many other professional wrestlers, the big man Snitsky didn’t have dreams of being in the WWE. He wanted to compete under a different set of lights. Snitsky had hopes of the NFL. He had a tremendous high school and college career so it could have happened. Instead, he landed in the WWE.
He dominated in the WWE and became apart of many storylines. When 2008 came around, he asked to be released and began a different career in acting. “It’s similar to wrestling,” he said. “I love the larger-than-life characters, the theatrics, and production. Just becoming a character and getting to perform.”
Scotty 2 Hotty Douses The Fires
Scotty 2 Hotty’s finishing move always brought the crowd into the match no matter what. The Worm wasn’t the most effective, but it was one that many fans adored. Scotty had a nice run in the WWE but saw his release in 2007. The former tag team champ was no more.
Now, instead of causing harm, he’s out there protecting people from danger. Scotty is another wrestler-turned-fireman. “Not only is the schedule appealing, but you’re doing something good,” he told WWE Classics.
The Charitable Molly Holly
Molly Holly was an unstoppable force in the WWE ring facing other women. She was ahead of her time when it came to skill and technique. Holly also didn’t want people to judge her based on looks and pure talent. Which is why she became the Women’s Champion.
In 2005, she chose to leave the WWE and take on more rewarding roles. For starters, she became a teen counselor. Then she earned her license as a massage therapist. And to top things off, she started doing charity work for organizations that help children.
The Rock Says
We couldn’t go this whole list without mentioning the one and only. Dwayne Johnson is sort of a trailblazer when it comes to venturing outside the ring. The mega-star not only dominated in the ring with his People’s Elbow and Rock Bottom finishers, but he also crushes it in the box office.
Many think there is nothing The Rock can’t do. He might even be running for president in 2020. Whatever the case, he showed wrestlers that it was okay and cool to be something else other than a steel cage match warrior. Unlike others on this list, The Rock still makes appearances for the WWE from time to time.
Trish Stratus Owns A Yoga Center
Trish Stratus first entered the WWE ring on March 19, 2000. She became the most successful female in the sport, taking home seven championships and being named WWE Babe of the Year three times and WWE Hardcore Champion once.
She continues to make the occasional appearance around WWE, but for the most part, she’s retired. The WWE Hall of Famer is now a mom of two — one boy and one girl. The Canadian also opened her own yoga center in Toronto, named Stratusphere.
Kevin Nash Took Up Acting
One of the most popular wrestlers of the WWE, Kevin Nash is the 1995 WWE World Heavyweight Champion and was inducted into WWE Hall of Fame in 2015. Since retiring, Nash has appeared in 16 movies and is on the cast of Living the Dream, playing Troy Marshall.
Another memorable role was as a stripper named Tarzan in Magic Mike and Magic Mike XXL. Outside of acting, Nash is a philanthropist, actively supports the LGBTQ community, and has vowed to donate his brain to the CTE Center at Boston University and the Concussion Legacy when he dies.
Booker T Is Getting Political
Booker was one of the most exciting and explosive wrestlers during his long career. He may have left the ring, but that doesn’t mean he’s getting boring. Months after retiring from WWE, Booker T announced he would be running for Houston political office in 2019.
As part of his campaign, he said that 2020 is going to be a new era in Houston. He plans to focus on improving low-income areas and decrease homeless numbers. There’s also a chance he might still make WWE cameos, but we’ll believe it when we see it.
Shawn Michaels Began Hunting
Shawn Michaels didn’t take a break after retiring from WWE. Not only has the Hall of Famer kept busy with his wife, Rebecca, and their two kids, he also hosts his own hunting show on the Outdoor Channel. He co-hosts the show, Shawn Michaels’ MacMillan River Adventures with Keith Mark.
In 2015, Michaels also published his autobiography Wrestling for My Life: The Legend, the Reality, and the Faith of a WWE Superstar. The revealing book is worth checking out for die-hard Shawn Michaels’ fans!
Jaqueline Is A Fitness Nut
Inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2016, Jaqueline is might be in better shape today then she was during her wrestling career. She loves to stay active, and even made a brief WWE comeback when she was enshrined. In 2018, she prefers to help train up-and-coming wrestlers, and is noted for her work with Nidia and Maven.
Jaqueline keeps active outside of WWE too, working with MTV on several reality series. She’s even competed on shows like Fear Factor, proving she’s more more than a one-hit wonder!