Others didn’t care as much and continued treading water in the industry or completely leaving altogether. The motives of a wrestler feature different variables that play into each of their stories. Find out which names wanted to prove something, and which ones were fine with the chapter closing. The following stories show how life goes after leaving WWE.
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10Wanted To Prove WWE Wrong: Rusev
The AEW debut of Rusev under the name of Miro featured a promo throwing shade at WWE. Miro appeared as the “best man” of Kip Sabian ahead of his wedding with fellow AEW star Penelope Ford.
The promo from Miro saw him referencing the brass rings and glass ceilings that limited his WWE opportunities. Miro had fans talking and showed the intensity behind his desire to prove WWE wrong for releasing him.
9Didn’t Care: Wade Barrett
Wade Barrett returning to WWE as an NXT color commentator surprised many fans since he did little wrestling during his time away. The success in WWE could have seen him having a bigger impact if wanting to wrestle for another promotion.
Barrett chased a few acting projects before ultimately exchanging wrestling bookings for commentary. The desire to become a top wrestling star was no longer there for Barrett, but he still found his way back to WWE with the new role in commentary.
8Wanted To Prove WWE Wrong: Gail Kim
Gail Kim was among the most underutilized wrestlers in WWE history due to Vince McMahon not seeing her value. WWE hired Kim on two occasions with both runs ending in disappointment. The talent was there, but there was little to no opportunity.
The end of each run saw Gail extremely motivated to show her talent in TNA. Kim was the best female performer in TNA history and one of the best women’s wrestlers in the world. WWE’s disrespect inspired Gail to thrive in her new environment.
7Didn’t Care: Sarah Logan
The recent WWE releases saw many wrestlers badly wanting a new opportunity to make WWE look like fools. Sarah Logan was one of the few talents that went the other direction and decided to take some time away from the ring.
Viking Raiders star Erik is married to Logan outside of WWE, and the couple announced she was pregnant with their first child. Sarah’s WWE departure opened the door for them to start a family.
6Wanted To Prove WWE Wrong: Eric Young
One of the most vocal wrestlers of the 2020 released stars by WWE was Eric Young. The former TNA star did well in NXT, but he struggled to find any relevant role on the main roster until his eventual release earlier this year.
Young made bold comments trashing the WWE system for not having any ideas for someone as talented as him. Impact Wrestling brought back Young and pushed him in a top heel role. Soon after his return, Young defeated Eddie Edwards to win the Impact World Championship for the second time in his career.
5Didn’t Care: Alberto Del Rio
The second WWE release for Alberto Del Rio following two stints with the company saw his wrestling career falling apart. Del Rio was upset at how WWE treated him, but he didn’t care one bit about proving his value in the wrestling world.
TNA tried to make Alberto one of the faces of the company when he transitioned there with horrible results. Del Rio was suspended during an Impact World Championship reign. He was then let go for no-showing an event. The former WWE Champion now might spend the rest of his life in prison after being found guilty of sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping.
4Wanted To Prove WWE Wrong: Cody Rhodes
Cody Rhodes was the one to request for WWE to release him from his contract after growing frustrated in the company. WWE refused to give up on the Stardust gimmick and it caused Cody to want to prove he could thrive on his own.
Success in Ring of Honor, New Japan, and numerous independent promotions made Cody a top star. The momentum of Cody and other members of The Elite led to the formation of AEW. Cody is one name WWE wishes didn’t prove them wrong.
3Didn’t Care: Eva Marie
WWE viewed Eva Marie as a future building block of the women’s division based on her look and acting potential. The lack of in-ring skills held Eva back until she improved during a solid stint as part of the NXT brand.
Eva was on the verge of receiving a solid push on the SmackDown brand, but it ended when she was suspended for violating the wellness policy. The aftermath of Eva’s release saw her leaving wrestling to pursue an acting career.
2Wanted To Prove WWE Wrong: Drew McIntyre
The release of Drew McIntyre was shocking following his WWE stint since everyone saw his potential. McIntyre had the physical tools and looked like a star. The relatively young age of Drew made him want to turn things around since time was on his side.
Promotions like Evolve, ICW, PWG, and Impact Wrestling all featured McIntyre in strong matches or programs. WWE was so impressed with Drew’s desire to prove them wrong and improve his career that it led to the company bringing him back. McIntyre is now among the biggest stars in WWE after winning the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 36.
1Didn’t Care: Carlito
WWE released Carlito about a decade ago for violating the wellness policy and not wanting to attend rehab. Carlito endured a fast drop from one of the biggest prospects to someone the company viewed as expendable.
The aftermath of Carlito’s release saw fans hoping to see him in TNA or Ring of Honor. Carlito has had one of the strangest journies with bookings on smaller shows with no desire to return to the big stage unless the money is noteworthy.